By Keith Peters
The Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball teams can now look ahead to the Central Coast Section playoffs, which begin next week, after wrapping up their respective league titles with similar performances on Tuesday night.
The host Vikings used their speed and defensive pressure to rout visiting Los Gatos, 85-42, to successfully defend their SCVAL De Anza Division crown. For Palo Alto (10-1, 17-6), the title is the sixth in the past 10 years and comes with one game remaining in the regular season, at Lynbrook on Friday.
The Gators, meanwhile, used their superior depth and talent to overwhelm host Priory, 75-42, to successfully defend their West Bay Athletic League title. Sacred Heart Prep will take a 13-0 record (21-2 overall) into its final regular-season game Friday on Senior Night against visiting Harker at 6:30 p.m.
Both Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep should get high seeds in their respective CCS divisions and make a deep run into the postseason, much like their football teams did on the way to winning section titles in the fall.
Palo Alto's victory was a mere formality as the Vikings faced last-place Los Gatos (1-10, 7-16), which had trouble finding the basket after staying close early at 14-9. Paly closed out the quarter with six unanswered points and opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run on a three-pointer by senior Max Schmarzo. That 17-0 run gave the Vikings a 31-9 advantage and the Wildcats never threatened after that.
Sophomore E.J. Floreal was solid inside for Paly with 21 points while senior Davante Adams added 16 points and 12 assists. Schmarzo made five 3-pointers and finished with 15, while adding an assist on a back-door lob to Adams, who jammed it home for one of his two dunks. Junior Tori Prati slashed his way for 10 points as Paly won comfortably before celebrated by cutting down the nets.
Like Palo Alto, Sacred Heart Prep had plenty of depth as it cruised past Priory. A 26-8 second quarter by the Gators, finishing with a 21-4 run, put the game out of reach. Priory was forced into eight of its 22 turnovers by SHP's pressing defense.
"I think it is good to wrap the league title up early," said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. "Takes a little of the pressure off on Senior Night."
Will McConnell led SHP with 17 points while fellow senior Tomas O'Donnell added 12 in a balanced effort that saw 11 Gators score. Sacred Heart Prep also made 17 of 21 free throws in one of its best efforts of the season, making the Gators even more dangerous as they prepare to defend their CCS Division IV crown. SHP has won 17 straight and hasn't lost since Dec. 18.
Elsewhere in the WBAL, second-place Pinewood (10-3, 18-5) suffered a 61-52 upset at the hands of host Harker (6-7, 14-9) while Eastside Prep (1-12, 6-17) dropped a 54-30 decision to host King's Academy.
In the semifinals of the Private Schools Athletic League playoffs, Mid-Peninsula got 34 points from Lydell Cardwell in a 71-52 victory over St. Lawrence Academy on Tuesday at Alma Heights Christian in Pacific. Reggie Williams added 17 points while Anthony Briggs and Nick Seyer combined for 20 points for the Dragons (18-2), who will face Mountain View Academy in the championship game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Castilleja and Sacred Heart Prep both advanced in the West Bay Athletic League playoffs following solid wins on Tuesday night at Menlo School.
Castilleja (12-13) senior Natasha von Kaeppler scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds with six assists in a 46-35 triumph over Notre Dame-San Jose. The Gators next will play Mercy-San Francisco in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Lauren Rantz added 10 points for the Gators (12-13), who pulled away from a 29-28 game and held a 39-30 lead with five minutes to play. Laura Rose grabbed eight rebounds to go with five points in another solid effort off the bench.
Sacred Heart Prep (12-9) got 14 points from Helen Gannon and 12 from Catherine Donahoe in a 56-41 triumph over Harker. The Gators next will play Menlo School in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart Prep put the finishing touches on an unbeaten season in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) girls' soccer with a 1-0 victory over visiting Menlo School on Tuesday. The Gators (9-0-1, 13-4-3) got the winning goal early in the second half from Francesca Surraco, off an assist from fellow senior Kendall Cody -- both playing in the final home game.
Sacred Heart Prep now advances to the Central Coast Section playoffs as the league's No. 1 seed. Menlo (4-1-5, 5-4-9) will have to host WBAL Skyline Division champ Notre Dame-San Jose on Thursday (3:30 p.m.) in a playoff, to decide the league's No. 3 automatic qualifier to CCS. This will be Menlo's third straight season in the playoff.
In Sunnyvale, Priory wrapped up second place in the WBAL Foothill Division for the third straight season with a 2-1 triumph over host King's Academy on Tuesday. The Panthers (6-2-2, 11-3-4) got a goal from Mariana Galvan in the sixth minute on Alyson Perna's assist and the two hooked up in similar fashion in the 60th minute for the winning goal. Freshmen Kaitlin Teoman and Erin Simpson both stood out on defense for the Panthers.
In Palo Alto, Castilleja wrapped up its season with a 7-1 romp over Mercy-Burlingame at the Mayfield Soccer Complex. Gabby Kaplan, Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner and Emily Mosbacher all scored two goals for the Gators (2-6-2, 7-10-2) while Caitlin Colvin provided three assists.
Rachel Brownell added the other goal while Claire Frasl, Mosbacher, Katherine Hobbs and Kaplan added assists. Mosbacher finished the season with 15 goals and six assists to lead the Gators.
In the PAL Bay Division, visiting Menlo-Atherton pulled off an upset by handing Woodside a 1-0 loss on Tuesday. The Bears (5-7-1, 10-7-2) got the winning goal from Gillian Collom off an assist from Meryssa Thompson as the Wildcats fell to 8-4-1 in league. M-A remains in sixth place with 16 points while San Mateo continues to lead with 28 points (9-3-1) with one regular-season match remaining on Friday.
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