Sports

Palo Alto boys beat weather, rivals for golf tourney title

The Palo Alto boys' golf team had to battle more than just a talented field in the annual Titan Golf Challenge on Tuesday at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. The Vikings also had to deal with the inclement weather, which included rain, cold and winds gusting to 30 miles per hour.

Despite a steady, heavy rain over the final six holes of the 18-hole event, Palo Alto overcame seven other teams and the weather to capture its first tournament title in at least five years.

The Vikings compiled a team score of 387 to defeat its closest pursuers, Sacred Heart Prep (398) and Gunn (403). Menlo School was fourth with 405 strokes.

The team crown kept Paly perfect for the season at 7-0 as the Vikings are undefeated in SCVAL De Anza Division action, as is Gunn. The teams still have two head-to-head matches in April to decide the regular-season title.

On Tuesday, it was all Palo Alto as freshman John Knowles led the way with a solid 1-over 73 and junior Grant Raffel added a 74. Sophomore Sam Niethammer shot 77, sophomore Patrick Fuery had an 81 and freshman Alex Hwang wrapped up the scoring with an 82.

"Yesterday's scores were great for the conditions they played in -- 20-30 mph gusts, rain for the last six holes," said Paly coach Doyle Knight. "We play Gunn when we come back from spring break -- they are undefeated also -- that will determine who wins our division. But, our big test will be league finals."

Menlo junior Andrew Buchanan and Sacred Heart Prep senior Kevin Knox tied for medalist honors as each shot even-par 72.

Buchanan started slowly and was 3-over after five holes, but battled through the steady rain and was a remarkable 4-under over the final seven holes to get back to even par.

Gunn was led by Anna Zhou's 78 with Anson Cheng (79) and Jack Jaffe (79) just a stroke behind. Avinash Sharma checked in with an 80 but Jayshree Sarathy's 87 knocked the Titans out of a possible second-place finish.

For Menlo, which is unbeaten in the West Bay Athletic League, Will Petit was just a few strokes over par before succumbing to wet grips on the final four holes. He finished with a 79. Jackson Dean (80), Ethan Wong (83) and James Huber (91) rounded out the Knights' effort.

Baseball

After outscoring host Half Moon Bay, 16-11, on Monday in nonleague action, Gunn returned home to face the Vikings of Lynbrook on Tuesday and overcame a rainy afternoon to post a 6-2 victory.

The weather started off acceptably, with the occasional rain drop. But by the fourth, it was rumored among the fans that the animals were assembling in pairs beyond the left-field fence. By the end of the game, the home plate area and mound were a mess,providing the pitchers of both teams significant frustration.

Despite hosting the game, Gunn (5-2, 9-5) was the visiting team as Lynbrook's field is under renovation. In the top of the third, Gunn loaded the bases with out. Ryan Teranishi had an RBI walk, and Kevin Sharp had an RBI groundout. In the top of the fifth, with two runs already in, Gunn senior Graham Fisher hit his second homer in as many days -- his fourth of the season -- with Sharp aboard, to push the Titans' lead to 6-1.

Senior center fielder Jake Verhulp had two hits on the day, scoring once. Senior David Oyer had his best day this season with two hits, including one run scored, but unfortunately sprained his ankle trying to stretch a single into a double. Junior Chris Rea also had two hits, including a double. Fisher also had a double to close out his two-hit day.

Junior righthander Rea started for Gunn, throwing his second complete game win in a row. Rea was around the strike zone on every pitch, and didn't let five errors behind him take any toll, giving up two runs (one earned) on four singles while improving to 2-1.

Boys' lacrosse

Palo Alto overcame the rain and visiting Menlo-Atherton to post a 15-10 victory in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Tuesday night. Despite the downpour and soggy turf, the Vikings' offense played its most inspired and creative game this season to earn a key victory. Menlo-Atherton, which didn't lose to Palo Alto last year, fell to 3-3 in divisional play (7-4 overall), while the Vikings improved to 2-1 (5-3 overall).

Paly junior Skyler Anderson led his team with an impressive five-goal, two- assist game, although solid team play meant seven other Vikings also scored, and 13 of their 15 goals earned assists. Senior Matt Lam won 15 of 24 face-offs and had two goals and two assists. Junior Jonny Glazier and sophomore William Hare also scored two goals each for Paly.

Menlo-Atherton actually won the ground-ball battle, 33-28, but errant passes caused 11 turnovers that repeatedly gave the Vikings back possession. After Palo Alto scored the first two goals, the Bears fought back to a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter. A brief 5-4 M-A lead was overcome when the Vikings scored five straight for a 9-5 halftime lead. They also led by four at the end of the third quarter, 12-8.

Palo Alto's next game is against De Anza Division rival Menlo School in Atherton on Thursday at 4 pm. Menlo-Atherton plays that day at Los Gatos.

In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep saw its unbeaten season end as visiting Marin Academy raced to an early lead and posted an 11-7 nonleague victory on a rainy, windy Tuesday afternoon.

Marin Academy (5-2) grabbed a 9-3 halftime lead as the Gators fell to 7-1 overall, while still remaining unbeaten in the SCVAL De Anza Division. Frankie Hattler, Duncan Hoskinson and Noah Kawasaki all scored twice for SHP, with Hattler adding two assists and freshman goalie Austin Appleton making 11 saves.

Girls' lacrosse

Menlo-Atherton defeated Sacred Heart Prep for the first time in three years, posting a 14-10 triumph in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action in a driving rainstorm on Tuesday.

The Bears (2-1, 3-2) jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the Gators (1-2, 5-3) rallied with five straight goals, two each from Isabelle Thompson and Caroline Cummings. Following a timeout, the Bears regrouped and scored four straight times to take a 7-6 halftime lead.

Due to penalties, M-A was a player down the final 10 minutes but held on as Meredith Geagan-Breiner controlled the midfield and the Bears went on a 5-1 run to secure the long-awaited victory.

M-A junior goalie Neeka Nazhand had nine saves to keep the Bears in the match while Becca Higgitt and Emily Carlson led the scoring with four and three goals, respectively. Cummings led the Gators with four goals.

In another WBAL Foothill Division match, Menlo School held on to first place with a 21-7 romp over visiting Castilleja, also played in a steady downpour. The Knights improved to 3-0 (4-4 overall) while the Gators fell to 1-2 (5-2).

Menlo grabbed a 15-4 halftime lead and was led by junior Michaela Michael with nine goals and one assist for a season-high 10 points, a team record. Ali Kim added three goals while Brooke Bullington and Kaitlin Frangione each added two goals and two assists.

Michael leads the league with 59 points (51 goals and eight assists) and ranks among the nation's best in points and goals. She's averaging six goals and one assist per outing. Menlo's schedule, according to laxpower.com, ranks No. 16 among 481 teams for the most difficult in the nation.

Katherine Hobbs, Martha Harding and Lou Biffar all tallied twice for the Gators. Harding was unable to finish the match due to illness.

In nonleague action, Palo Alto hosted defending Colorado state champion Cherry Creek and dropped a 20-8 decision. Cherry Creek was coming off an 18-10 win over Menlo on Monday and was rated "best in the West" by Lacrosse Magazine.

The visitors raced to a 5-0 lead before Paly junior Nina Kelty ended the run with a goal. Her sister, senior Nina, added a goal and junior Charlotte Biffar tallied twice in the first half. Still, the Vikings trailed, 10-4.

Paly continued its momentum into the second half as Biffar scored once and Simone Buteau tallied twice, but Cherry Creek proved too much to handle as Princeton-bound Anyha Gersoff scored seven goals. Biffar led Paly (6-2) with four goals.

Softball

Menlo-Atherton won its first game in the PAL Ocean Division, an 8-4 triumph over visiting San Mateo in a game shortened to five innings by the rain. The Bears (1-2, 6-6) got a complete game four-hitter from Emily Katz, who helped herself with a hit and RBI.

Katie Vallarino and Shannon Aguiar each drove in three runs on two hits, with Aguiar's big hit a bases-loaded triple. Erin LaPorte also had two hits for M-A.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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