Pinewood tuned up for the girls' CiF NorCal basketball playoffs next week with a 43-41 win over Scotts Valley in the third-place game of the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs on Thursday night in Los Altos Hills.
The No. 4-seeded Panthers (26-3) got 16 points, five rebounds and three steals from freshman Akayla Hackson plus eight points and 11 rebounds from sophomore Chloe Eackles.
"Akayla is a special player who carried the day for us, making big play after big play!" said Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler.
Pinewood was able to beat No. 7 Scotts Valley (24-5) despite shooting just 33 percent from the field, including 28 percent (8 for 29) from 3-point range. The Panthers also turned the ball over 21 times to allow the visitors to keep the game close.
Pinewood junior Marissa Hing hit a big 3-pointer with a minute to go and followed that with two free throws for a five-point cushion. Scotts Valley then banked in a trey with five seconds to play. The visitors called a timeout and immediately fouled Pinewood senior Leeana Bade, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Scotts Valley again called time with 3.4 seconds left. Pinewood, however, stole the inbounds pass and preserved its two-point win.
"Scotts Valley is a solid team. They used their size and length to disrupt our offensive flow," Scheppler said. "They got a lot of deflections in the first half. We did a nice job defensively. We were fortunate to win . . . and I like the way we found a way."
Pinewood will find out this weekend where it will open the NorCal Division V playoffs, which appears pretty wide open. Along with Eastside Prep, Scheppler sees Brookside Christian, Valley Christian-Dublin, International (SF) and Capital Christian (Sacramento) as possible contenders.
Pinewood is the defending NorCal champ in Division V, beating rival Eastside Prep last season in the finals, 48-36. Pinewood has won four of the past five NorCal crowns and six of the past nine.