The Mercury News

Mitty overpowers Salesian for third straight Open title

- By Darren Sabedra dsabedra@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

High school basketball teams come in all forms of athletic ability and size.

But few in the girls game are like Archbishop Mitty.

The Monarchs at full strength are in a class among themselves, at least in this half of the state, and the San Jose powerhouse showed that once again on its home court Tuesday night.

With the Northern California Open Division championsh­ip and a trip to the state final on the line, Mitty rode the size and athleticis­m of freshman phenom McKenna Woliczko and the poise of junior facilitato­r Morgan Cheli to roll past Salesian 86-49.

The Monarchs will play Etiwanda for the CIF State Open title on Saturday at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Mitty broke open the regional final with a 14-0 run to end the first quarter and never was threatened by an opponent that defeated topseeded Piedmont by three points in the previous round.

Piedmont was the only Bay Area team to beat Mitty this season. But that result, in early December, was when Cheli was dealing with a foot injury that kept her off the court until late in the season. She's at full strength now. And with Woliczko playing as she did Tuesday — the 6-foot-2 post had 29 points and 21 rebounds — Mitty is a force that few high school teams can match.

The Monarchs (28-2) captured their third consecutiv­e NorCal Open title and 15th regional championsh­ip overall.

“We would not be here without each other and without coach (Sue) Phillips and the rest of the coaching staff,” Woliczko said. “It's crazy how good we are doing right now, how good we are doing this season and we're looking forward to preparing for Saturday.”

Woliczko scored at least six points in every quarter. She had nine in the opening period, finished the first half with 15 as Mitty surged to a 41-20 advantage and added seven in the third quarter when the home team's lead widened to 64-30.

“Incredible performanc­e,” said Mitty's longtime coach. “She played on both sides of the ball. She had offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocked shots. Scored in transition.

“She's quite a talent.” Cheli, who also is 6-2, kept the offense motoring all game, doing far more than the 15 points she added to the box score.

“She just gets everybody in a position to succeed,” Salesian coach Stephen Pezzola said about Cheli. “Woliczko is really, really good, but Morgan really makes that team run.”

Salesian (27-5) simply couldn't match up against a team that started nobody under 6-foot tall. The Richmond school didn't have a single 6-footer on its roster.

But it isn't just height that makes Mitty dominant.

“Not only do we have size, but we're an athletic group,” Phillips said. “It's really hard to replicate that in preparatio­n for our team -- our length and athleticis­m. We did an incredible job pounding the boards.”

According to Phillips, Mitty had 25 offensive rebounds to one defensive rebound for Salesian.

The Monarchs had two players score in double figures off the bench as Elana Weisman and Layla Woods each finished with 12.

Mitty had eight players score overall.

“It was really unbelievab­le,” Cheli said. “It's been a journey this year. To be back was awesome. To be in this moment, especially with my team, it was great.”

Makiah Asidanya scored 21 points in her final game for Salesian, which won the state Division I title last season.

Nobody else on the visiting side reached double figures in scoring.

“This group never quit,” said Pezzola about his team, which won the North Coast Section Open Division title and had a double-overtime victory at Folsom and the win over Piedmont to reach the regional final. “It had heart and soul. Tried hard every game this season.

“Got better and better and better. We were playing our best basketball and we just ran into a team that we just can't match the size.”

All that's left now for Mitty is to win one more game, which would give the program the one trophy missing from its collection — a state Open Division championsh­ip.

 ?? NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Archbishop Mitty's Morgan Cheli holds the plaque after Tuesday's win over Salesian in the Open Division regional final.
NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Archbishop Mitty's Morgan Cheli holds the plaque after Tuesday's win over Salesian in the Open Division regional final.

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