The dream continues for the Gunn girls' basketball team, which came up with arguably its best defensive performance of the season, upending No. 2-seeded Lowell of San Francisco, 34-24, in a CIF NorCal Division I second-round game Saturday evening at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.
Gunn (21-6), the No. 7 seed, will have to play on the road again for the semifinals on Tuesday at No. 3 Kennedy of Sacramento (25-8), a 58-52 winner over No. 6 Deer Valley.
The current Titans have equaled the 2009 Gunn squad, which also reached the NorCal semifinals (before losing and finishing 29-2). Saturday's win avenged a 45-43 loss to Lowell in the Burlingame Tournament earlier this season and improved Gunn's record to 15-1 since falling to Paly on January 11.
"We really stepped up tonight on defense," said Gunn coach Sarah Stapp. "That was one of our best defensive efforts."
So strong was Gunn's defense, it marked the lowest point production for Lowell since it lost to basketball power Sacred Heart Cathedral, 70-24, on November 27, 2004.
Throughout the game Lowell never looked fully comfortable when on offense as the Titans' defense never allowed the host team to get into a rhythm.
One area that may have impacted both teams was the game being played in Kezar. Built in 1924, the pavilion has the old-style springy floors, interesting sightlines with poles in the way and rims that bounced a lot of shots out.
"It's definitely one of the more unique places we have played in," said Stapp. "It was like playing in a much larger Paly gym."
With the exception of two Lowell three-pointers, most baskets came from within 10 feet as neither team shot well from the outside. One area where Gunn did excel was the free-throw line. The Titans converted on 12-of-15 free throws and was a perfect 7-for-7 in the second half.
"Our free throws were big tonight," said Stapp. "Especially Zoe (Zwerling) going three for three when she was fouled on a three- point shot when they cut the lead to seven."
Zwerling's free throws were clutch as Gunn saw a 12-point lead at the beginning of the fourth get cut to seven. Zwerling was fouled on a three-point shot and calmly sank all three free-throw attempts to put Gunn up 34-24 with 4:14 left in the game in what turned out to be the final score of the night.
Throughout the game Gunn had issues with turnovers and early on it was very prevalent. After three minutes Gunn only had two shot attempts and had already turned the ball over four times as it trailed 4-0 until a Claire Klausner basket started a 15-2 run that put Gunn in control and the Titans never trailed again.
A key area where Gunn had an advantage was inside as senior Cat Perez and Meghan Mahoney used their size to their advantage. It especially coming into play late in the first half Mahoney scored two baskets, the second coming on a great pass from Perez, to to give Gunn a 23-15 lead at half.
The second half was one of the lowest combined scoring halves in recent memory as the two teams only tallied a total of 21 points. Gunn only made two baskets with both coming from the Perez. The first coming when Perez went inside and missed three times, but each time got the rebound and then finally getting the score to make the score 29-19.
Her second basket came with 6:48 left in the game and extended the lead to 31-19.
Over the next two minutes, Lowell scored five straight points to cut the lead to 31-24 before Zwerling pushed the lead back up to 10 in what turned out to be the final points of the night.
Perez led Gunn with 12 points, followed by nine from Zwerling. Maggioncalda scored five with Mahoney and Klausner tallying four apiece.
The win improved Stapp's career record to 3-2 in NorCal playoffs. Gunn is the only public school in the CCS in the past eight years to reach the NorCal semifinals twice.
Division IV boys
Senior Cole McConnell drained eight 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 33 points to pace the Sacred Heart Prep boys to an 80-78 overtime victory over No. 6 St. Patrick/St. Vincent in the CIF NorCal Division IV quarterfinals on Saturday night in Atherton.
Ian Bennett added 13 points, including four in overtime, and Ricky Galliani finished with 11 as the No. 3 Gators (22-6) moved on to Tuesday's semifinals against host No. 2 seed Modesto Christian (27-5), an 87-81 winner over No. 7 Cardinal Newman. This is SHP's first trip to the semis in Division IV.
Sacred Heart Prep survived a 32-point outburst from James Webster and 25 from Jalen Canty. Webster missed a shot at the end of regulation that would have won the game for the Bruins (20-11). Webster wound up fouling out in OT.
The Gators wrapped things up in the extra period on the strength of their free-throw shooting. Galliani was intentionally fouled and made both shots for a 78-74 game. Kevin Donahoe then made one of two for 79-74 before SHP committed a foul, with the visitors making both for a 79-76 game. Donahoe was fouled again, making one of two for an 80-76 margin before St. Patrick/St. Vincent made two more free throws with less than a second left.
Division V boys
The No. 2-seeded Pinewood boys kept their season alive with a 79-64 victory over No. 7 University-San Francisco in a CIF NorCal Division V quarterfinal on Saturday night in Los Altos Hills.
The victory avenged a loss to University in last season's NorCal semifinals, which ended Pinewood's season. The Panthers (26-2) now will host No. 6 Branson (26-9), a 44-42 winner over Capital Christian, in a semifinal on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
"Such a fun night," said Pinewood coach Jason Peery. "The boys played hard the way they always did and shot the ball well. We are peaking at the right time and, hopefully, we'll bring an excellent effort on Tuesday. Branson is always going to be tough."
Pinewood knocked down 11 of 18 three-point attempts while pulling away from University. Senior Dante Fraioli, coming off a down game in the CCS championship, bounced back to lead the Panthers with 25 points, four assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Pinewood senior Solomone Wolfgramm added 14 points and 11 boards while senior Kevin Sweat had 16 points six rebounds and two assists. Pinewood built a 20-point lead in the third quarter, slowed down the tempo and didn't look back.
University was led by Junior James Burton, who had 20 points, including six 3-pointers, but the rest of the University squad was held to 3-of-20 from the 3-point line.
Division V girls
The reigning CIF Division V state champion Pinewood girls' basketball team took another step toward a possible third straight such title by posting a 51-41 victory over No. 4 Hamilton (30-1) on Saturday night near Chico. Sophomore Leeana Bade had 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who had four players in double figures.
Freshmen Gabi Bade and Marissa Hing each added 12 points while junior Angelina Mapa finished with 11. The Panthers made 11 three-pointers, even though shooting only 11-for-37 from that range and finishing 16-of-55 for 29 percent.
The No. 5-seeded Panthers (20-12) next will face top-seeded Brookside Christian in the semifinals on Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Cesar Chavez High in Stockton. Brookside (27-4), which bounced No. 8 International of San Francisco, 74-54, is the No. 1 Division V team in the state.
In East Palo Alto, No. 2-seeded Eastside Prep will play another day after topping No. 7 Ripon Christian, 47-26, in a CIF NorCal Division V quarterfinal on Saturday night. The Panthers (16-14) will host No. 3 St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda (22-10) in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Eastside Prep used a full-court press to force 32 turnovers. Standout junior Hashima Carothers got into foul trouble, but 6-3 freshman post Destiny Graham stepped up her game with 18 points. Sophomore point guard Charmaine Bradford added eight points, 11 rebounds and four rebounds for the CCS champion Panthers while Carothers contributed six points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Alexis Simon added nine rebounds for Eastside Prep.