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St. Mary’s High girls advance to final after strong finish

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    St. Mary’s High girls advance to final after strong finish

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

De’Janae Evans (4) of St. Mary’s started slow but finished with a game-high 20 points to lead her school into the NorCal final.
De’Janae Evans (4) of St. Mary’s started slow but finished with a game-high 20 points to lead her school into the NorCal final.

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Kennedi Villa (10) of Saint Mary’s College High School shoots the ball during the third quarter of her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against St. Ignatius College Preparatory at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017. St. Mary’s defeated St. Ignatius 68-60.
Kennedi Villa (10) of Saint Mary’s College High School shoots the ball during the third quarter of her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against St. Ignatius College Preparatory at McCullough

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Aislyn ‘Ace’ Dora (1) of Saint Mary’s College High School, right, smiles as she high fives in a huddle before her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against St. Ignatius College Preparatory at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017.
Aislyn ‘Ace’ Dora (1) of Saint Mary’s College High School, right, smiles as she high fives in a huddle before her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against St. Ignatius College Preparatory at

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Maggie Burke (24) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory drives for a layup as Kennedi Villa (10) defends during the first quarter of their CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017.
Maggie Burke (24) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory drives for a layup as Kennedi Villa (10) defends during the first quarter of their CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal at McCullough Gymnasium in

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Head Coach Mike Mulkerrins of St. Ignatius College Preparatory is seen on the sideline during the third quarter of his CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against Saint Mary’s College High School at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017. St. Mary’s defeated St. Ignatius 68-60.
Head Coach Mike Mulkerrins of St. Ignatius College Preparatory is seen on the sideline during the third quarter of his CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against Saint Mary’s College High School at

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Maggie Burke (24) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory drives the ball as Carolyn Gill (32) of Saint Mary’s College High School defends during the third quarter of their CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017. St. Mary’s defeated St. Ignatius 68-60.
Maggie Burke (24) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory drives the ball as Carolyn Gill (32) of Saint Mary’s College High School defends during the third quarter of their CIF Division III Basketball regional

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Diary Khin (34) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory looks to pass the ball during the third quarter of her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against Saint Mary’s College High School at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017.
Diary Khin (34) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory looks to pass the ball during the third quarter of her CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal against Saint Mary’s College High School at McCullough

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

Ayzhiana Basallo (35) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory consoles teammate Maggie Burke (24) after their 60-68 loss against Saint Mary’s College High School in their CIF Division III Basketball regional semifinal at McCullough Gymnasium in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017.
Ayzhiana Basallo (35) of St. Ignatius College Preparatory consoles teammate Maggie Burke (24) after their 60-68 loss against Saint Mary’s College High School in their CIF Division III Basketball regional

Photo: Stephen Lam, Special To The Chronicle

St. Mary’s High girls advance to final after strong finish

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In a microcosm of its season, the St. Mary’s-Berkeley girls basketball team started slow but finished fast Tuesday.

The Panthers fell behind 32-16 in the second quarter, but used their superior quickness, offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting to pick up a 68-60 CIF Northern Region Division 3 semifinal victory over host St. Ignatius.

De’Janae Evans, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, epitomized her team’s slow start, going scoreless in the first quarter, but she finished with a game-high 20 points.

Teammates Cardyn Gill added 15 and Kennedi Villa added 12 for the Panthers, who made 22 free throws, 12 in the fourth quarter. The top-seeded Wildcats finished 6-for-12 from the line.

St. Mary’s, the fourth seed, lost four straight games in December to drop to 7-6. Now, the Panthers are 22-10 and heading into the NorCal final Saturday night against Campolindo-Moraga, which beat Pleasant Valley-Chico 67-58 on Tuesday.

St. Ignatius, which got 19 points from Ayzhiana Basallo and 17 from Maggie Burke, finished 20-10.

“It’s been a long, up-and-down journey with a young team,” said first-year St. Mary’s coach Chris Toler. “But I like where we’ve ended up. We showed some jitters here early, but we remained calm and played our brand of basketball in the second half.”

Toler should take some credit for it. He had the Panthers insert a 1-2-2 zone defense, which caused problems for St. Ignatius. The Wildcats were outscored 19-8 in the third and 26-17 in the fourth.

“Our senior girls (Burke and Basallo) played their tails off,” St. Ignatius coach Milke Mulkerrins said. “They had great careers. We had an excellent season but just couldn’t finish tonight.”

Mitty 78, St. Mary’s-Stockton 61: Top-seeded Mitty trailed 11-4 early but took control with a 24-5 run and from there, the host Monarchs did not lead by fewer than eight points to prevail in an Open Division semifinal game.

St. Mary’s College-bound Madeline Holland led Mitty (27-2) with 24 points and 10 rebounds with six assists. Sophomore Haley Jones added 12 points and 10 rebounds with four assists, Tahlia Garza added 12 points and Kristin Miyahara had 12 points on four three-pointers.

“Collectively, this was our best game of the season,” Mitty coach Sue Phillips said. “We beat a team playing their best basketball of the year and a team that could beat us. We had to bring our ‘A’ game tonight and that’s exactly what we did.”

Fourth-seeded St. Mary’s (21-9) got 18 points and 10 rebounds from Aquira DeCosta and 14 points (four three-pointers) from San Diego State-bound Naje Murray.

Mitty next meets Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa in the Northern California Open title game Saturday at Santa Clara University.

Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa 59, Pinewood-Los Altos Hills 57: Hailey Vice-Neat had 24 points and Tal Webb 13 as seventh-seeded Cardinal Newman (30-3) stunned host Pinewood (25-4), the second seed. Kiara Astrom had 15 points, Brianna Claros 12 and Hannah Jump 11 for Pinewood, which fought back from a 16-point second-half deficit. “Newman played great and deserved to win,” Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said.

MaxPreps.com senior writer Mitch Stephens cover high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

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