For the first time since 2010, the Berkeley High girls basketball team will not compete for a state championship.

The Yellowjackets had their run of consecutive CIF Division I Northern Regional titles end with a 51-42 loss to Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove on March 22 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Berkeley, the No. 4 seed, was trying for its fourth straight regional title and 13th overall.

Instead, the Eagles -- the No. 11 seed in the Northern Regional tournament -- advance to Friday's Division I state final against Canyon Springs-Moreno Valley.

Neither Berkeley nor Pleasant Grove won its league or section title, but both peaked in March. Pleasant Grove (25-9) was just a little better in the fourth quarter on March 22.

"I'm proud of this team. We got pretty far for a young team," said Berkeley senior Desire Finnie, who will play at Pacific next year. "It was a good season."

Finnie finished with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Yellowjackets, but Berkeley (24-9) struggled to slow Eagles center Aaliyah Pena in the final quarter when she scored eight of her 13 points.

Berkeley led nearly the entire first half when the defenses dominated and both teams shot under 30 percent from the floor, but Pleasant Grove surged back in the third quarter.

After Finnie's jumper tied the game at 31 with 6:48 to play, Pleasant Grove went ahead for good on a layup by Brittany Nguyen, who finished with 14 points.


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"We missed some layups that we can't afford to miss," Berkeley coach Cheryl Draper said. "Our shots were a little anxious."

Pena scored six straight points for the Eagles, and Patricia Castrence delivered the dagger, a 3-pointer with 1:44 left that gave Pleasant Grove a 48-39 lead.

Berkeley is now 12-5 in NorCal championship games.

"They have a storied program," Pleasant Grove coach James McKeever said of Berkeley. "But we kind of looked at them like we looked at the last three teams in front of us. No one expected us to win."

Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman had 13 points for Berkeley.

In a semifinal on March 18, Berkeley beat Deer Valley 63-61. Welch-Coleman scored a game-high 24 points in the victory.

Salesian 61, St. Mary's 42: Pride star Mariya Moore was the closer in an Open Division semifinal on March 18, scoring 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half of the Salesian victory.

But it was her sophomore sister Minyon that led visiting Salesian in scoring in the first half with eight of her 15 points. She helped the Pride come back from an early 7-0 deficit to lead 27-20 at halftime.

Both teams were thrown a curve only hours before the game, when it was moved from El Cerrito to St. Mary's. Salesian athletic director Chad Nightingale said that the scoreboard clock at El Cerrito was broken.

St. Mary's (27-8) held a 7-0 lead with 2:59 remaining in the first quarter, with five of those points coming from Mikayla Cowling. But Salesian (29-6) went on a 19-5 run in the first half to take a 19-12 lead. St. Mary's trailed by just two points at 34-32 with 3:17 left in the third quarter, but a 9-0 Salesian run gave the Pride the lead to stay.

Cowling paced St. Mary's with 18 points. Teammate Gabby Green, a McDonald's All-American along with Cowling and Mariya Moore, was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finished with five points, all in the first half. But she also grabbed 12 rebounds, along with teammate Ma'Ane Mosley.

-- Phil Jensen

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