By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Palo Alto failed to capitalize in the Central Coast Section playoffs for the sixth straight season, suffering a 70-64 overtime loss to St. Francis on Saturday in a Division II boys' quarterfinal at Foothill College.
Palo Alto lost in the semifinals the past two years, fell in the second round in 2009, failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2008 and lost in the semifinals in 2007. The Vikings haven't reached a CCS title game since 2006, when they captured the Division II state title with Jeremy Lin.
The No. 6 seeded Vikings ended their season at 21-5 overall while third-seeded St. Francis improved to 14-12 and advanced to the semifinals.
Both teams struggled early on offensive as each team scored just 11 points in the first quarter. Senior center Drew Dickey cashed in eight points in seven minutes for St. Francis closing out the first half on top 30-28.
The second half was seesaw battle as the lead changed hands four times with six minutes left in regulation. The Vikings made an 8-0 comeback run in the closing three minutes of the fourth quarter. Senior forward Israel Hakim made a key steal, which led to a layup by junior center E.J. Floreal that tied the game at 58 with 1:07 left.
The Lancers came up big when 6-foot-5 senior Abu Tratter rejected a shot by Floreal with 3.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The momentum shifted to the Lancers in overtime when senior guard Jimmy Frazier got the opening tipoff and scored in the first five seconds. That shot led to four more field goals and capped off the quarterfinal win.
"That's the only way were going to let them beat us," said Vikings senior Alec Wong. "If they hit their shots -- and they did."
Hakim had a solid game as he led all scorers with 21 points with Floreal adding 19 and Mathias Schmutz contributing 12. Junior Aubrey Dawkins, who transferred to Paly from St. Francis, was limited to just five points by his former teammates. Dawkins had 21 points in an opening-round win over South San Francisco on Thursday.
Division IV boys
Senior Cole McConnell tossed in 24 points to help No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep (19-9) post a 49-39 victory over WBAL foe King's Academy in a quarterfinal game Saturday at Menlo School. The Gators rallied from a 12-9 first-quarter deficit by outscoring the Knights, 15-4, in the second quarter.
Sacred Heart Prep will face No. 7 Harker (18-8), which upset No. 2 Soquel, 62-59, in another quarterfinal. SHP beat Harker twice during the WBAL regular season. SHP and Harker will meet at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
In another quarterfinal, host and No. 5 seed Menlo School (18-8) was eliminated by No. 4 Half Moon Bay, 60-38. The Knights got 11 points from sophomore forward Ryan Young and nine more from sophomore guard Bobby Roth.
The Cougars pulled away in the second quarter during which Andy Simanek scored nine of his 20 points. Menlo defeated Half Moon Bay earlier this season.
Division V boys
Top-seeded Pinewood (23-2) advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday with a 72-31 romp over Crystal Springs in a quarterfinal Saturday at St. Francis-CCC in Watsonville.
Pinewood forced 31 turnovers and held Crystal Springs to 19 percent shooting including 1-of-17 from 3-point range. Pinewood was led by senior Solomone Wolfgramm, who had 14 points, nine rebounds, and four steals in less than a half of play. Senior guards Bradley Naumann and Dante Fraioli added 14 points and 10 points, respectively, with Fraioli chipping in five steals
Pinewood will meet No. 4 St. Thomas More (20-3) in the semifinals on Wednesday at St. Francis-CCC at 5:30 p.m.
In the other semifinal, No. 3 Priory (11-9) and No. 2 St. Francis-CCC will meet. Priory eliminated No. 6 Eastside Prep (14-12) by a narrow 36-34 count. Gabor Somogyi led the Panthers with 12 points and Andy Isopkehi added eight. Priory had to rally from a 12-9 first-quarter deficit and trailed by 20-18 at halftime. Johnnie Walton tallied 12 points for Eastside Prep.
Division I girls
Defending CCS Division I champion Palo Alto successfully opened defense of that crown with a 52-36 victory over No. 6 Salinas on Saturday at Hartnell College in Salinas. Senior Stephanie Allen tallied 18 points and senior Lindsay Black added 11 for Paly, which grabbed a 25-10 halftime lead.
The No. 3-seeded Vikings improved to 18-4 and advanced to Wednesday's semifinals at Christopher High in Gilroy. Paly will face No. 2 Wilcox (21-2) at 5:30 p.m. The teams have faced each other twice this season, splitting SCVAL De Anmza Division games.
Top-seeded Gunn (17-6) will play No. 4 Santa Teresa in the other semifinal at 7:15 p.m., following the Titans' 60-33 victory over North Salinas on Saturday. Gunn forced 37 turnovers, 28 of them coming on steals. Claire Klausner led the way with 19 points while Cat Perez added eight points, six rebounds and seven steals.
Division IV girls
Fourth-seeded Menlo School continued its strong postseason performance with a 39-35 victory over No. 3 Scotts Valley in a section quarterfinal on Saturday at Notre Dame-Belmont. Maddy Price and Drew Edelman each scored 13 points for Menlo, which led the entire game. The Knights (19-9) will face No. 2 Soquel (23-4) in the semifinals on Tuesday at ND-Belmont at 5:30 p.m.
Host Notre Dame-Belmont, meanwhile, knocked out No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep (17-10) with a 47-43 overtime victory. Helen Gannon led the Gators with 12 points while Haley Hemm and Melissa Holland added 11 each as SHP rallied to tie with a 19-point fourth quarter.
Top-seeded Mercy-San Francisco romped to a 63-27 win over Notre Dame-Salinas and will meet ND-Belmont in the semifinals.
Division V girls
Defending state champion and No. 2 seed Pinewood advanced to the semifinals with a 71-32 romp over No. 7 Crystal Springs on Saturday in the Panthers' gym.
Freshman Marissa Hing led Pinewood with 18 points while sophomore Leeana Bade added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Monique McDevitt finished with 11 points. The Panthers made 16 three-pointers in 42 attempts, with Hing knocking down six.
Pinewood (17-11) will face No. 3 St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic in the semifinals on Wednesday in Los Altos Hills at 7:15 p.m.
In another quarterfinal, No. 5 Castilleja (13-13) dropped a wild 82-74 overtime loss to No. 4 Pacific Collegiate (21-4) at Pinewood School. Olivia Nicholls scored a career-high 28 points, the most ever by a Castilleja player in CCS action. Freshman Yasmeen Afifi added 16 points and pulled down a school-record 25 rebounds, 12 coming on the offensive end to tie another school mark.
Freshman Madelyn Tarr made one of two free throws with no time left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Pacific Collegiate on to dominate the extra period by scoring the first nine points. Morgan Green scored 43 points for Pacific Collegiate, the most individual points ever given up by the Gators, who missed 13 free throws -- even though freshman Paige Vermeer made 10 of 12 and finished with 14 points.
Top-seeded Eastside Prep (13-14), meanwhile, routed No. 8 East Palo Alto Academy, 55-19, and will play Pacific Collegiate in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Sophomore Kimberly Leu had a season-high 16 points while freshman Destiny Graham added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Charmaine Bradford and Anisah Smith, who earlier were ruled out for the season with injuries, returned to the Eastside Prep lineup. Hashima Carothers also has returned and is playing, despite nursing an injury.