Game highlights - Berkeley beats Oakridge. Bishop O'Dowd beats St. Mary's Stockton.
SACRAMENTO, CA - Some states have a Final Four or Elite Eight, but with more than 1,300 high schools, California has regional championships in six divisions that produce Northern and Southern California winners in each.
That makes 12 championship games, boys and girls, and they’ll be played March 22 and 23 in Sacramento. This report, then, is on the Northern California Regional championships played March 16 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, involving the Open, Division 1 and Division 2 teams.
The Open Division matchup, between St. Mary’s of Stockton and Bishop O’Dowd, had the most talent, as one would expect, and O’Dowd lived up to its No. 1 seed and No. 8 national ranking with a sloppy 58-50 win. In Division 1, Berkeley beat Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills 56-45, and in Division 2, St. Francis of Mountain View demolished Lynbrook of San Jose, 44-19, setting a record for fewest points allowed.
And here’s a look at the up-and-coming talent from all six teams.
Ali Bettencourt, 5-10 wing, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills)
Bettencourt is a three-point shooter with decent size, a quick release and deep range. She needs to add some dimensions to her game to be more than a specialist in college, but she’s worth a look at the mid-major level.
Sara Dyslin, 6-0 forward, Lynbrook (San Jose)
This forward is smooth around basket. Dyslin has a strong, good basketball build, but quickness defensively could be an issue. She plays hard all the time, and can go both ways off the dribble, but needs a perimeter game to be effective at the next level.
Desire Finnie, 5-10 wing, Berkeley
Finnie is very athletic, slender and strong and definitely has a Division I body and Division I athleticism, but at this point, her offensive game is limited to putbacks and moves in the paint, neither of which will be there for her in college. Someone will take a chance because she can guard at the Big Six level, but her offensive skills need more developement.
Charise Holloway, 5-9 wing, St. Mary’s (Stockton)
With a sturdy build, Holloway looks like a power forward, but her size will force her to the wing. Playing in the pressing uptempo St. Mary’s system has helped her get comfortable in space, but defense could be an issue at the BCS level. She can shoot threes, which will be more important at the next level.
Alexandra Kalmbach, 5-10 wing, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland)
Kalmbach is really an unknown given the talent that surrounds her, but the fact that she started a few games and has the confidence of coach Malik McCord is reason to believe her career won’t end in high school. She moves smoothly on defense and jumps well, but her ceiling is uncertain.
Daisha Abdelkader, 5-5 guard, St. Francis (Mountain View)
Abdelakder is an athletic, slender point guard who will get great coaching from Brian Harrigan. She’s a good defender with good footwork, and at the other end, shoots threes and runs the offense. She showed a good burst to the basket in transition and finished with a tough, offhand, left-hand layup. She doesn’t look to score, but that could be a product of the deliberate St. Francis system.
Brijanee Moore, 5-7 guard, St. Mary’s (Stockton)
Moore has the look of a big-time player – broad shoulders, athletic, long arms – and is explosive as well. She will play a more prominent role when senior point guard Onome Jemerigbe graduates, but is very good off the ball too.
Asha Thomas, 5-5 guard, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland)
Plays the two while waiting for senior Ariell Bostick to graduate, but she’ll run the team next year. She's a good three-point shooter, quick to the hoop, she is expected to show more of her game when the dominant senior class moves on – but she needs to improve her game management. Another plus, she's a good free-throw shooter, though.
Aisia Robertson, 5-7 guard, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland)
Robertson would start for almost any other team in the country, but comes off the bench for loaded O’Dowd. Athletic, quick, and a good three-point shooter, she has all the tools to be an exceptional college player. She’s also very good in transition and a nifty ballhandler.
Jaimonia Welch-Coleman, 5-0 guard, Berkeley
This undersized guard runs the show for a veteran Berkeley team, and has a point guard mentality. She can get into the paint but at her size, it’s tough for her to convert there. At her size, she needs to develop a three-point shot, and if she does, she could make herself a D-1 prospect.
Angel Johnson, 5-6 wing, St. Mary’s (Stockton)
Johnson is a great leaper, can post up is athletic and strong, but will have to get more comfortable on the perimeter. She showed a good crossover, but her shooting touch is questionable. The St. Mary’s system, with threes and pressure, should accelerate that development.
Kat Tudor, 5-10 wing, St. Mary’s (Stockton)
A long wing, Tudor shoots threes and is very comfortable with her left hand, both on the bounce and as a passer – in fact, needs to go right more. She also needs to gain strength, but that should come in time.