By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Junior guard Bobby Roth scored 23 points to lead the Menlo School boys' basketball team to a 62-52 West Bay Athletic League victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Friday night.
The Knights (8-1, 12-7 overall) took sole possession of first place while the Gators dropped to 8-2 (13-8 overall). Menlo snapped Sacred Heart's eight-game win streak while continuing an eight-game win streak of its own.
"This puts us in first place, but the main thing is that we have momentum," said Knights' coach Delandro Leday. "It's been a while since we've won here and it's a great win for the program - I'm just happy for the kids."
The Knights, averaging a healthy 65.6 points per game during their winning streak, beat the Gators earlier this season at home, 73-54.
"We did a lot of the same things this game," said Leday. "Our offense was better prepared and our intensity on defense really picked up."
Roth set the table early for the Knights as he scored 15 points in the first half. His junior teammate, Jack Heneghan, cashed in six points as the Knights closed out the first half on top, 33-26.
Free-throw shooting turned out to be a weakness for the Gators; they hit only 3 of 11 in the first half and finished the game missing 17 of 27.
Nonetheless, the Gators managed to draw close in the fourth quarter when senior Ricky Galliani picked a steal then scored on a layup, pulling Sacred Heart to within two points of the lead with 3:30 left.
With 33 seconds left and Menlo ahead, 52-50, Sacred Heart senior Ian Bennett corralled in a critical rebound but lost control, and Menlo took possession, costing the Gators a chance to tie the game.
The Knights then scored on their next possession when sophomore Liam Dunn hit a tough fadeaway shot, putting Menlo up 54-50 with 44.7 seconds left. Dunn had a solid game, finishing with 10 points.
Dunn came through again as he grabbed a steal and a layup giving Menlo the 58-50 edge with: 26.2 left in the game. Menlo's Wes Miller made 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, finishing with 11 points.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto coasted to a 71-42 victory over Homestead. The Vikings (9-0, 19-1) won their 17th straight and clinched no worse than a tie for the division crown after second-place Saratoga (6-3) lost to Milpitas in overtime, 65-57.
With junior center Keller Chryst missing the game to attend the Super Bowl in New Orleans, where his dad is the quarterbacks coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Paly turned to senior Aubrey Dawkins to lead the way. Dawkins didn't disappoint as he scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had three steals.
Fellow senior Mathias Schmutz added four points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Senior Kenny Jones tossed in 11 points for Paly, which held a 20-6 first-quarter lead and was up by 35-20 by halftime.
Palo Alto can win the league title outright on Tuesday with a win over last-place Cupertino (0-8) on the Pioneers' floor.
Pinewood won its third game of the week and remained no worse than tied for first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) following a 62-37 romp over visiting Castilleja.
The Panthers improved to 7-1 in league (17-4 overall). Co-leader Eastside Prep (7-1, 16-5) defeated host Mercy-San Francisco, 55-20.
Junior Leeana Bade (20) and sophomore Marissa Hing (15) combined for 35 points for Pinewood, which pulled away to a 35-15 halftime lead. Castilleja sophomore Paige Vermeer had seven points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Teammate Ellie Chen made all three of her treys, tying a school record for most 3-pointers without a miss.
Pinewood, along with Eastside Prep, has earned a first-round bye in the WBAL playoffs. The teams will meet Tuesday at Eastside Prep (6:30 p.m.) to decide the regular-season champion.
In Atherton, Menlo School got 25 points and 12 rebounds from senior Drew Edelman in a 52-48 win over host Sacred Heart Prep.
The Knights (5-3, 15-7) overcame a sluggish first half thanks to a 13-point effort by Maddy Price. Kaelen Dunn and Olivia Ferrando also made major contributions to the win. Ferrando had two big baskets in the first half when Menlo was ice cold. Dunn drained two three-pointers to seal the victory in the fourth quarter.
Helen Gannon led the Gators (3-5, 15-7) with 24 points.
In the PAL South Division, host Menlo-Atherton remained in a two-way tie for second place -- two games behind first-place Woodside -- following a 40-29 win over Sequoia. Senior Katherine Hayse led the Bears (7-2, 11-10) with 13 points.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto gave first-place Lynbrook a scare before dropping a 40-34 decision. Paly fell to 4-4 in league (8-11 overall) while Lynbrook improved to 7-1 (17-2).
The contest was tight throughout, with Paly trailing by 37-34 with 50 seconds to go. Lynbrook ran the clock down and missed its shot, but Paly could not get the rebound and had to foul.
"The girls executed a good defensive game plan to give us a chance to win," said Paly coach Scott Peters. "We just did not hit shots to win."
The game was tied at 28 after three quarters. Charlotte Alipate led Paly with 13 points. The Vikings, however, got just three points from the foul line.