It took five lead changes in the final quarter, but St. Joseph Notre Dame defeated St. Bernard 47-44 in the Division 5 championship game held at the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento Friday afternoon. For St. Joseph Notre Dame, the win marks the first Division 5 championship in school history.
Tied at 42 with 2:17 left in the game, 5-foot-7 senior point guard Jacari Whitfield hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game to give St. Joseph Notre Dame a 45-42 lead with just one minute left.
St. Bernard guard Brandon Randolph had a chance to tie the game with 1.7 seconds left after both teams exchanged free throws, but the sophomore's desperate 55-foot heave caromed off the rim as time expired.
A nail biter throughout, the teams remained deadlocked after the first half. St. Bernard led 36-35 at the end of three, but St. Joseph Notre Dame rallied behind key 3-pointers that were ,too much for St. Bernard to overcome.
St. Joseph Notre Dame (27-8) was led by 6-foot-10 center Brandon Keane as the Northern Colorado-bound senior scored 12 points, eight coming in the first half.
The Alameda-based team made it to the championship game after defeating San Francisco University 61-43 to win the Northern California Regional.
For St. Bernard (26-9), Randolph had a team-high 14 points while Thurman Thomas contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Playa del Rey team escaped the Southern California Regional with a 61-59 victory over Sierra Canyon.
St. Bernard improved from 4-23 last season to 26-9 under first-year Coach Reggie Morris Jr.