With only one senior in its starting lineup, the Alemany High girls' basketball team may think of itself as young, but the team it will face Saturday for the Division III state championship is even younger.
Alemany, picked in the preseason to finish second in the Mission League, may fashion itself as an underdog, but its next opponent has posted three consecutive upsets on the road to advance to the state final.
San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral features six freshmen on its 11-player roster and knocked off top-ranked Lake of the Pines Bear River (33-1), among others, in the Northern Regional.
Southern Section champion Alemany (27-6) meets the Central Coast Section runner-up Fightin' Irish (21-10) on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. at Arco Arena in Sacramento.
While both teams have climbed to this level for the first time, only one coach is on the verge of reaching a career plateau.
Alemany's Melissa Hearlihy will enter the game needing only one victory to reach the 300-mark in her 13-year career.
"That kind of stuff takes care of itself," she said. "I'll be more excited about winning the state title than getting the 300th win."
The Indians, who were honored Monday with an on-campus rally, have won 14 consecutive games.
Top-seeded Alemany defeated Mission League rival Harvard-Westlake, 50-45, Saturday in the Southern Regional final, its first victory in three appearances in the regional championship.
Sacred Heart Cathedral entered the Northern Regional seeded eighth, but defeated No. 1-seeded Bear River, 46-44; No. 5 Northgate, 51-34, and defending state champion Lafayette Acalanes, 56-50, in overtime.
Sarah Richen, the Fightin' Irish's only senior starter, scored 32 pointsagainst Acalanes. The 6-foot-2 Pepperdine-bound center was named the San Francisco area's player of the year by the San Francisco Examiner.