Deer Valley High senior Kendall Smith didn't start the game so well, but he finished it just fine.
The clutch player scored on an acrobatic drive with 12 seconds left, giving the No. 1 seeded host Wolverines a thrilling 54-52 win over No. 4 Bellarmine College Prep-San Jose on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Northern Regional Division I playoffs.
Enjoying the best season in school history, Deer Valley (26-5) will face Pleasant Grove in the NorCal championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
After Smith's basket in the final seconds, he stole the ball near midcourt and drew a foul with 4 seconds to go. He missed both free throws, but the Bells' Danny Schatzman missed a desperation shot falling out of bounds near the left corner at the buzzer.
Deer Valley big man Marcus Lee (12 points) battled foul trouble throughout the fourth quarter after getting fourth foul with 4:36 left, but others stepped up.
Bellarmine's excellent 3-point shooters gave them a fighting chance.
Jackson Gion paced the Bells (21-10) with 19 points, including five of the Bells' seven 3-pointers.
After Deer Valley led 49-43 with 5:30 left on a Kenny Robinson layup, the Bells went on a five-point run with Lee on the bench, capped by a Gion 3-pointer with 3:13 left.
Robinson was called for a controversial offensive foul in the lane with 2:31 left, with the Wolverines clinging to a 50-48 lead.
Jack O'Hara, who had eight of his 10 points in the second half, tied it for Bellarmine with a layup, then the teams exchanged two free throws apiece to set the tone for Smith's winner.
Grant Vermeer contributed 13 points for the Bells, and the Wolverines Nsimba Webster (12 points) was at his ball-hawking best pressuring the Bells into turnovers.
Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove 68, De La Salle 51: Host Pleasant Grove (26-6) opened a 20-10 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, beating the Spartans (26-5) in the Division I regional semifinals.
Dublin 81, Sacramento 76: The Gaels (26-6) battled back from a 10-point second-half deficit to claim a Northern California Regional Division II semifinal win over visiting Sacramento (26-7).
Dublin, which won its first NorCal playoff game in school history Saturday over El Camino, will now play for the NorCal title against College Park Saturday at Sleep Train Arena at noon.
Dublin's Jamir Andrews scored a game-high 28 points that included a 3-pointer that tied the game at 66-all with 4:13 left.
He also had seven rebounds and four assists.
"He was so clutch and he kept us in the game in the first half," Dublin coach Tom Costello said.
Utah State-bound JoJo McGlaston scored 16 points -- 15 in the second half.
His 3-pointer with 3:16 left gave the Gaels a 69-66 lead, the first lead since early in the game. It also capped a 10-0 run in the span of 2:16.
McGlaston's biggest play wasn't a made bucket, but a sweet alley-oop pass to 6-foot-9 Eric Nielsen that gave the Gaels a 74-69 lead with 1:08 left.
-- Steve R. Waterhouse, correspondent
College Park 86, St. Francis-Mountain View 82: College Park, the 10th seed in Div. II, is headed to the Northern California championship game for the first time. The Falcons' Seb Flores hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to seal Tuesday night's semifinal victory at St. Francis.
Playing well for College Park (25-5) was Mikey Eggelton, who had 24 points, hitting four 3-pointers. He had 6 points in the final period.
Steven Daily had 11 points for the Falcons.
The Lancers (14-17) were hindered when star Khalid Johnson bruised his foot early in the fourth period and didn't return until 1:28 was left. Khalil Johnson, Khald's brother, made up for it, scoring 20 points to lead St. Francis.
-- Palo Alto Daily News
Campolindo 69, Enterprise-Redding 52: The Cougars opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, beating host Enterprise (25-4) in the Division III regional semifinals and advancing to the NorCal title game Saturday at 8 p.m. at American Canyon High.
Campolindo (22-8), which had already won regional playoff games on the road at Burlingame and at El Cerrito, will play Sacred Heart Cathedral in the regional final, as the Fighting Irish beat Sir Francis Drake 55-46 in the other semifinal.