Saturday’s ACCAL championship game between Berkeley High and Encinal High wasn’t exactly high drama: the Lady ’Jackets stomped the Jets by 21 points two weeks ago in the regular season meeting, and there was no reason to think the rematch would be any different. Berkeley cruised out to a 21-9 lead after one quarter and never looked back, winning the league title with a 59-35 victory.
The ’Jackets (19-8) earned the top seed in this week’s North Coast Section Division I playoffs. They will face Mission San Jose at home on Tuesday, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Berkeley head coach Gene Nakamura is in an unusual situation, with just 10 active players on varsity. The ’Jackets are usually the deepest team in California, with 15 players used as interchangable parts, but injuries and academic issues have left the bench thin. Nakamura said he plans to promote five junior varsity players for the postseason, but there will be a larger load for the starters to carry.
Nakamura’s two senior stars, guard Angelita Hutton and forward Sabrina Keys, proved themselves capable of putting the team on their shoulders on Saturday. scoring Berkeley’s first 19 points to grab a 19-8 lead after six minutes. Hutton nailed three of her game-high four 3-pointers during the early going, with Keys doing the dirty work inside.
Hutton led Berkeley with 18 points and also had 2 blocked shots. Keys scored 16 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter, and she also had 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The Jets, on the other hand, looked like they had never seen a basketball before for much of the game, committing turnover after turnover and chucking up shots from all over the court. They were just 7-for-41 from the field through the first three quarters and shot just 24 percent for the game, giving them no chance of overtaking the ’Jackets.
Nicole Hornage was the only Encinal player who approached efficiency on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 22 points. But Encinal’s other weapons, Jackie Randolph, Shafon Rollins and Amber English, were a combined 4-for-37 from the field, with Rollins the high scorer with 4 points. Randolph and Rollins were held scoreless in the first half.
“We know they’re not a great shooting team,” Nakamura said of the Jets. “We wanted to make them play on the outside and not give up offensive rebounds.”