Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 31, 2010

Sacred Heart Prep boys tune up for WBAL season by winning a title

by Keith Peters

With a lot of height and talent returning from last season's Central Coast Section Division IV championship team, the Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball team appeared destined to start the 2010-11 season with a long winning streak.

That didn't happen, though, as the Gators started out 4-2. Since then, however, the Gators have played like they were expected to and run off four straight victories.

Three of those triumphs came this week at the San Diego Surf 'N Slam tournament at Scripps Ranch High, where the Gators cruised to the championship on Thursday with a 73-50 domination of Shorewood (Washington).

Senior twins Will and Reed McConnell combined for 42 points and junior brother Cole added eight as the family trio equaled Shorewood's team effort. The Gators (8-2), however, trailed by two after one quarter before pulling away over the next two quarters.

Will McConnell led the way with 22 points and finished the three-game tourney with 59 points. Reed added 20 in the finale and totaled 47 in the three wins while Cole added 23 points.

Sacred Heart Prep defeated St. Stephens (Texas) in the semifinals, 60-41, after opening the tourney with a 52-42 victory over host Scripps Ranch.

The Gators made 23 three-pointers in the tournament and made 47 of 63 from the free-throw line while making a solid tuneup for next week's start of the West Bay Athletic League season.

Sacred Heart Prep will return to action on Tuesday to host Crystal Springs-Uplands to begin the 14-game WBAL season.

Two other local prep basketball teams had a chance to match Sacred Heart Prep's finish this week, as well.

Castilleja senior Natasha von Kaeppler is picking a good time to rewrite the school record book as the Gators have benefited from her scoring and rebounding during the holidays.

On Wednesday, von Kaeppler scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to power the Gators to a 55-24 thumping of Gunderson in the semifinals of the Gold Bracket at the Dons Club Holiday Tournament at Del Mar High in San Jose.

The victory put Castilleja (7-3) into Friday's championship game against San Benito at 3:30 p.m.

The 23 points by von Kaeppler, which included a free throw in the first quarter, made her No. 1 in school history for free throws made, moving her past Nikki Perlman. One game earlier, von Kaeppler surpassed Perlman as the school's all-time rebounder.

Castilleja put the game away in the first quarter with a 23-0 outburst as von Kaeppler tallied nine points. Junior guard Riya Modi hit a 30-footer as time expired to end the first-quarter highlight reel.

In addition to her 23 points and 18 rebounds, von Kaeppler added five assists, five steals and a career-high eight blocks. While she became the first player in school history to record 50 career double-doubles, von Kaeppler became the first Gator to have at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in the same game.

Castilleja sophomore Olivia Nicholls pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds to go with 11 points. Castilleja outscored Gunderson in the paint, 40-10, and 17-1 in second-chance points.

In a 45-44 win over Westmont on Monday, von Kaeppler scored the tying basket and hit the winning free throw as the Gators rallied from six points down with 1:15 left to play. The standout senior also pulled down 16 rebounds to surpass Perlman as the school's all-time leading rebounder with 1,052.

At the annual Leo LaRocca Sand Dune Classic, Pinewood advanced to the championship game with a 53-31 romp over Olympian in San Francisco on Wednesday. Senior Hailie Eackles led the Panthers (8-2) with 20 points, including four 3-pointers as Pinewood outscored Olympian in the second quarter, 22-0, to pull away.

Pinewood played for the championship on Thursday night.

In the semifinals, Pinewood rolled to a 72-23 triumph over Galileo as Eackles tallied 20 points and the Panthers converted 11 three-pointers.

At the annual West Coast Jamboree, Palo Alto captured the consolation title in the Jade Division by defeating Natomas, 48-39, on Wednesday at Alhambra High. The Vikings (8-3) got 13 points from senior Katerina Peterson and 10 from Sydney Davis.

In the elite Platinum Division, Eastside Prep suffered its third straight loss while falling to host Deer Valley, 59-54. The Panthers (7-5) trailed by eight after one quarter and by 13 at halftime. Senior Takara Burse led Prep with 18 points while junior Hashima Carothers scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Senior guard Ahjalee Harvey added 11 points for the Panthers, who are playing in the tournament's toughest division this week.

In nonleague action, Drew Edelman and Maddie Price combined for 41 points as Menlo School rolled to a 70-56 victory over Hawaii Prep in the second game of a three-game tour of the Big Island of Hawaii on Wednesday. Price, a freshman, made nine of 12 shots to go with four steals and three assists. The Knights (8-2) will play nationally ranked Konawaena High on Friday, a team that recently beat Central Coast Section power Mitty.

Boys' basketball

Menlo School advanced to the fifth-place game of the Chaminade Christmas Classic with a 54-44 victory over Granada Hills on Wednesday at Chaminade Prep in West Hills. The Knights (4-4) got 17 points and four steals from Mac Osborne while Richard Harris added 11 points and 12 rebounds. Jonny Halprin contributed 11 points and four assists for Menlo, which will face the St. Bonaventure-Dominguez winner on Thursday.

At the Tim Cole Classic in Fremont, Michael Culhane tallied 13 points and Myles Brewer added 10 but Menlo-Atherton couldn't get anyone else in double figures as the Bears (5-6) dropped a 46-39 overtime decision to Washington (Fremont) in the second round at American High in Fremont on Wednesday. Ian Proulx pulled down 10 rebounds for M-A.

At the Gryphons Holiday Classic at Crystal Springs in Hillsborough, Mid-Peninsula dropped a 44-41 decision to Hillsdale in the semifinals. Lydell Cardwell was limited to 13 points as the Dragons fell to 6-2. Mid-Peninsula played for third place on Thursday.

At the St. Francis Holiday Basketball Classic, Palo Alto (6-4) got 15 points from E.J. Floreal and Hakim Israel in a 67-46 victory over Aragon in a consolation semifinal game. The Vikings played Deer Valley for the consolation title on Thursday.

Girls' soccer

Sacred Heart Prep advanced to the semifinals of the Excalibur Tournament in Santa Ana with a 1-0 victory over Capistrano Valley High on Wednesday. The Gators (4-2-1) will face No. 6-seeded Los Alamitos in the semifinals on Thursday at San Clemente High. A victory will put SHP into the championship match at 6:30 p.m.

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