State Basketball: Div. III girls, St. Joseph 53, Bishop O'Dowd 42

SACRAMENTO -- The Santa Maria St. Joseph girls' basketball team used a third-quarter surge to beat Bishop O’Dowd, 53-42, in the championship game of the CIF Division III playoffs at Power Balance Pavillion on Saturday.

Kelsi English and Brianna Bognuda hit a pair of key 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter to give St. Joseph an eight-point lead, 36-28. St. Joseph erased a three-point halftime deficit and outscored O’Dowd, 22-11, in the third quarter.

For St. Joseph coach Ed Torres, it was his second CIF state title. The first one came 20 years ago, in 1991, at St. Joseph.

“It’s kind of déjà vu,” Torres said. “Usually these games are low-scoring, defensive struggles. You never know when you’re going to get back. This team’s been resilient, been a lot of fun. It feels just as good today as it did 20 years ago.”

The game between St. Joseph and O’Dowd started out as a low-scoring, defensive struggle. The game was tied, 9-9, at the end of the first quarter. O’Dowd led 17-14 at halftime despite going scoreless for nearly six minutes in the first half.

“We can’t hang our head,” O’Dowd coach Malik McCord said. “We tried. We tried. It just wasn’t our night.”

Heather Madrigal gave St. Joseph the lead, 23-22, with a basket midway through the third quarter. But O’Dowd came back and tied the score, 28-28, with a little more than a minute to play in the third quarter.

St. Joseph scored the last eight points of the quarter to take an eight-point lead. Alyson Beebe’s basket gave St. Joseph a two-point lead. Then English sank a 3-pointer to push the lead to five points, 33-28, with 40 seconds in the quarter. Bognuda extended the lead to eight with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

English said she wasn’t confident with her outside shooting in the first half. Her 3-pointer boosted her confidence. Bognuda’s 3-pointer was “icing on the cake.”

“It was huge,” Bognuda said. “I knew I had to get open and I knew I had to nail it for the team.”

Beebe finished with a game-high 21 points and was 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. Bognuda scored 15 points and was 10-of-14 from the free-throw line. English had 11 points and was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. St. Joseph made 28 free throws in the game and had 37 attempts.

Oderah Chidom scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds for O’Dowd. She was the only player from O’Dowd to score in double figures.