“Wonderful” and “amazing” were the words used by the Dublin and Pinole Valley girls basketball coaches, respectively, to describe their teams’ first-round upsets in the CIF NorCal playoffs Wednesday.
NorCals continue Saturday at 6 p.m. for many East Bay girls basketball teams, including the Gaels and the Spartans after becoming what Pinole Valley senior Jessica Rogers called a “Cinderella.”
No. 11-seeded Dublin topped No. 6 Palo Alto 55-49 in Division I and No. 13 Pinole Valley vaulted past No. 4 Rio Linda 52-38 in Division III.
“It was the best game we played all year,” Pinole Valley coach BJ Gaither said. “It was amazing.”
The wins set up second-round games for the Gaels, who visit No. 3 Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, and the Spartans, who travel to No. 5 Shasta-Redding.
“It was just a wonderful experience,” Dublin coach Hans De Lannoy said. “We made some adjustments that helped us and got us back in the ballgame.”
The Gaels trailed 31-18 at halftime but outscored Palo Alto 27-8 in the third quarter at Gunn High.
“We were doing a lot better defensively (and) we started shooting the ball really well,” De Lannoy said. “It was a team effort — everybody scored in that stretch.”
Senior Alanna Yee hit two of her four 3-pointers in the period en route to a game-high 22 points. Sophomore Lesila Finau and junior Tiaja Andrews added 12 points apiece as the Gaels (19-10) stayed alive a year after reaching the NorCal Finals in Division II.
Senior Arriel Cobb had 15 points and 11 rebounds in Pinole Valley’s victory, which hinged on the Spartans defending the dribble-drive offense used by Rio Linda.
“When it first came out, I ran it,” said Gaither, a longtime area coach, “and I saw how stagnant and how hard it is to run it when you take certain things away. So we took the shooters away, face-guarded them and forced the point guard to beat us.”
It helped that the Spartans committed just four turnovers, he added.
“We just told the girls, ‘Don’t be afraid,'” Gaither said. “‘You’ve played great teams and you’ve had success against them. You’ve just got to string it together.'”
Elsewhere, No. 11 Newark Memorial’s upset attempt fell just short in a 57-56 loss at No. 6 Los Gatos in Division II and No. 11 Piedmont was edged 57-55 in overtime by No. 6 West Campus-Sacramento in Division IV.