It's a new year, and that means the Sacred Heart Prep boys and Palo Alto girls will begin their respective basketball title defenses as both take the floor Tuesday night.
Sacred Heart will open the West Bay Athletic League season with a game at Crystal Springs. Tip off is 6:30 p.m. The Gators went 14-0 in the WBAL last season (26-3 overall), but lost seven key members of that team to graduation -- including twin starters Reed and Will McConnell.
One big returner is 6-foot-5 senior Cole McConnell. Junior Ricky Galliani is the key newcomer to the Gators' roster this season.
Sacred Heart brings a 6-2 preseason record into the WBAL season, one where the Gators will not be favored. That role, instead, goes to Pinewood (9-1), which opens Friday at Crystal Springs at 5 p.m.
In another WBAL opener on Tuesday, Eastside Prep (10-0) may receive its first real test of the season at Harker at 6:30 p.m. Menlo-Atherton (7-5), meanwhile, will play a nonleague game at Sequoia at 7 p.m.
The Palo Alto girls, meanwhile, will open defense of their SCVAL De Anza Division crown by hosting Lynbrook at 7 p.m. The Vikings went 7-2 in the preseason, winning back-to-back games last week to take the Susie Nagpal Saratoga Shootout title.
The Vikings went 12-0 last season to win De Anza Division crown before advancing to claim their first Central Coast Section Division I title.
Coach Scott Peters has 11 returning players from last season's 22-5 squad, including leading scorer Emilee Osagiede and 6-foot-2 shot-blocker Josie Butler.
Junior guard Stephanie Allen is back to run the offense, which includes senior Lindsay Black, 6-foot sophomore Danielle Palmer, junior Annie Susco plus seniors Sam and Paige Borsos. Sophomores Charlotte Alipate and Hope Crockett also are contributing to the Vikings' pressing defensive style.
In nonleague action on Tuesday night, Menlo-Atherton (4-7) will visit Sacred Heart Prep (8-2) at 6:30 p.m.