EL CERRITO -- The swarming defense of the St. Mary's High girls basketball team limited Salesian to 21 points through three quarters as Panthers captured the Tri-County Athletic League playoff championship with a 48-40 victory at El Cerrito High.
With the victory, the Panthers (25-4) will most likely earn the No. 1 seed in Division IV when seeding for the North Coast Section playoffs are announced Sunday.
"We just did a better job of communicating," said St. Mary's coach Nate Fripp about his team's defense Saturday.
The Panthers' Gabby Green scored a team-high 21 points, including seven in a key 9-1 run in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
St. Mary's entered the second quarter with only a 12-7 lead, but a 3-pointer in the left corner by Green and two free throws in the first minute started the 9-1 run. Salesian (23-6) didn't closer than six points the rest of the game.
"She was under control, she knew when to attack," said Fripp about Green, who also had six steals. "She played a great floor game."
St. Mary's Taylor Berry also did a great job defending Salesian star Mariya Moore. Moore scored a team-high 21 points, but 11 of those points were in the final four minutes of the game. The Panthers held a 37-21 lead after three quarters. Moore grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in the game.
St. Mary's Mikayla Cowling had a great all-around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Teammate Kwele Serrell pased for seven assists.