However, waiting for them on Friday night at St. Mary’s College were the top-seeded squads of Berkeley (for the girls) and De La Salle (for the boys).
The Berkeley Yellowjackets dismissed the Wolverines girls team from the tournament in a 61-29 win. A couple hours later, Deer Valley’s boys team took a 54-31 loss to the Spartans.
The season isn’t over for both squads, as they have qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Tournament, which starts Wednesday.
“We came through a lot of ups and downs, but I feel we played our hardest,” junior guard Kendall Smith said. “We’ve got to get back to practice and get back in it and we’ll get the victory next time.”
Smith led Deer Valley with 11 points against De La Salle. Junior center Marcus Lee and senior forward Noah Labonte each contributed six points. Lee was more influential to the game on defense, racking up a few blocks and key rebounds. Senior guard Olajuwon Garner contributed five more.
Of the two games, it appeared that Deer Valley had the best chance against the Spartans. The Wolverines played a tough first half, but turnovers and a potent De La Salle scoring attack put more and more distance between the two teams.
Deer Valley led once – early in the first quarter after a three-pointer from the 6-foot, 8-inch Lee gave the Wolverines a 5-4 advantage. After that, it was all Spartans.
“In the first half, we had energy,” head coach LeChet Phillips said. “But with a team like this, you have to realize that you have to do it for 32 minutes, not four or five.”
De La Salle took a 27-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, and Deer Valley's chances didn’t improve after that. Led by senior forward Remington White, the Spartans took off in the third quarter, finishing it with a 39-24 lead.
Junior guard Elliot Pitts' 22 points spearheaded the De La Salle attack. Senior guard Amadi Udenyi netted 12 more.
Berkeley 61, Deer Valley 29
Deer Valley’s girls basketball team approached Friday’s North Coast Section championship game against Berkeley with confidence, but the Wolverines couldn’t match the Yellowjackets’ tempo.
Berkeley excelled on both sides of the ball, coming away with an easy 61-29 victory over Deer Valley at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.
"It was tough," said junior guard Sabrea Coleman. "We knew what they were going to do. We tried to stop them, but they're a good team."
The game was never in question. The Yellowjackets struck first and never trailed, jumping out to a quick 11-2 lead by the game’s first timeout. After Berkeley went on a 16-2 run to start the second quarter, the Yellowjackets continued to cruise to a 37-14 lead at halftime.
At game’s end, sophomore forward Desire Finnie led Berkeley with 17. Senior guard Jasmin Guinn netted 13 while Arizona State-bound senior guard Elisha Davis contributed 12.
Beating Berekely was a tall order for Deer Valley, which toppled Amador Valley and Mission San Jose in the previous two rounds. Berkeley is ranked No. 11 in the state and No. 47 in the nation by MaxPreps. The Yellowjackets have lost twice this season – in December’s West Coast Jamboree to Windward of Los Angeles and to St. Mary’s in January.
The Wolverines' Coleman led her team with seven points. Senior guard Monique Mulder contributed six to the effort, while Kai Butler finished with four.
"It was a learning experience," Deer Valley head coach Mark Hurtado said. "We knew coming into the game they were going to be tough ... We've played the best and know we know what to expect for NorCal."
The Wolverines’ season is not done yet. Deer Valley earned a berth to the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Tournament, which tips off on Wednesday. Brackets are announced Sunday.