Saturday's local NorCal Championship games
Division I boys
A closer look: This is the first trip to the NorCal finals for either program, guaranteeing a first-time participant in the state title game. The Wolverines, paced by Kentucky-bound McDonald's All-American Marcus Lee and UNLV-bound Kendall Smith, edged Bellarmine College Prep-San Jose 54-52 in the NorCal semifinals. Pleasant Grove crushed De La Salle 68-51.
Division II boys
A closer look: This is another battle of teams making their first NorCal finals appearance. The Gaels' road to Sacramento included two home games, although they had to outlast longtime regional power Sacramento in the semifinals. The Falcons were on the road for three games, including a semifinal against another surprise team in St. Francis-Mountain View, the No. 10 seed who entered the playoffs four games below .500 and finished 14-17.
Division III boys
A closer look: The surprising Cougars have reeled off wins over Burlingame, El Cerrito and Enterprise in the NorCal playoffs after falling in the North Coast Section quarterfinals against seventh-seeded San Marin-Novato. The Cougars overcame a tough road environment in a 69-52 win over No. 3 Enterprise-Redding in the NorCal semifinals on Tuesday. Andrew Zolitakis scored a game-high 19 points. Sophomore center Chris Hansen and junior forward Justin Dunn had 14 points apiece. Isaac Christian added 12 points. The Cougars will have a size advantage against Sacred Heart Cathedral, which lacks a player taller than 6-foot-2. The Irish beat Drake 55-46 in the regional semifinals, after forcing 27 turnovers in a 68-48 quarterfinal win over San Marin.
Division V boys
A closer look: The Pilots, who have won three consecutive NCS Division V titles, turned back Branson School-Ross 44-41 in the regional semifinals with typically stifling defense. Temidayo Yussuf led the Pilots with 16 points, and Justin Brown added 14. Young Capital Christian earned the team's first Sac Joaquin Section title this season. Cougars freshmen Trey Belton and Justice Shelton-Mosely and sophomores Tyler Jennings and DJ Wilson play key roles.
Open Division girls
A closer look: The Dragons have soundly defeated their past 22 opponents and showed they could handle St. Mary's vaunted pressure defense in a 21-point nonleague victory at home last month. Forward Oderah Chidom, a McDonald's All-American, has been steady for the balanced Dragons. Sophomore Bri Moore leads a St. Mary's team that survived close games against Miramonte and Carondelet in reaching a sixth consecutive NorCal final.
Division I girls
A closer look
: These programs are no strangers to NorCal title games. The Yellowjackets have reached the NorCal Division I championship game for the fourth year in a row, winning the past two, and the Trojans beat Berkeley in the 2010 title game. Both teams consistently have been scoring more than 50 points per game in the regional playoffs this season. In the semifinals, the teams received excellent 3-point shooting performances from Rachel Howard (Berkeley), who had four, and Ali Bettencourt (Oak Ridge), who had five.
Division IV girls
A closer look
: The two NCS programs know each other well -- they played in the same league for years before realignment that started this school year. They have taken two different paths through the NorCal bracket to the championship game -- Salesian has averaged 67.5 points per game in its two wins, and Piedmont has averaged 39.5 points per game. But the Highlanders have pulled out two three-point victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the NorCal Division IV championship game for the first time since 2006. Salesian is the defending champion.