Both teams need victories. Should they achieve them, the Vikings and Gators all but mathematically wrap up regular-season championships.
Palo Alto (7-1, 14-6) will put first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division on the line when it plays host to second-place Cupertino (5-2, 13-6) at 7:45 p.m. The Pioneers are the only team to beat the Vikings in league play this season, 45-40, on Jan. 14.
First-year Paly coach Adam Sax would like nothing better than to prove that loss was a fluke, especially in a game with so much at stake. A win by the Vikings will give them a two-game lead over Cupertino and Gunn with only three games to play. Gunn (5-3, 13-7) was upended by host Homestead, 55-43, on Tuesday night, opening the door wider for a possible Paly title. Jack Hannan scored 16 points for Gunn.
"Friday's the big one," Sax said. "We have to win that one, otherwise we're tied."
The Vikings took care of business Tuesday night with a 60-38 win over host Los Altos. Paly senior Davante Adams tallied 17 points and grabbed six rebounds with five assists to lead the way. He made some nice passes to sophomore post E.J. Floreal, who finished with 13 points as did Max Schmarzo. Alec Wong missed the second half due to illness.
Before Paly takes on Cupertino in the final game of a quad, Sacred Heart Prep will visit second-place Pinewood at 6 p.m. The first-place Gators are 9-0 in the West Bay Athletic League and 17-2 overall while the second-place Panthers are 8-1 (16-3).
A victory will give SHP a two-game with games against four teams the Gators already have beaten quite easily. While Friday will be too early to be celebrating, a victory will provide quite a cushion for SHP, which routed Pinewood in its first meeting, 87-71.
The Gators tuned up for Pinewood as senior Will McConnell poured in a season-high 26 points and his twin, Reed, returned to the lineup following a sprained ankle in a 73-54 romp over host King's Academy. Tomas O'Donnell added 10 points and Pat McNamara contributed eight. Reed McConnell scored five in his first game back as he prepared for the Pinewood game.
The Panthers, meanwhile, got 19 points and eight rebounds plus four steals from senior Kyle Riches in an 81-56 victory over host Crystal Springs on Tuesday night. Junior Solomone Wolfgramm added 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while junior Cameron Helvey contributed 18 points and seven boards.
In San Jose, Menlo School came up with one of its best defensive efforts of the season in holding off host Harker, 36-27, to move into sole possession of third place in the WBAL. The Knights (5-4, 9-10) scored just four points in the first quarter and trailed by 15-9 at the half after holding Harker to just two points in the second period.
Menlo then came alive after intermission, outscoring Harker 27-12 in the final two periods. Kent Lacob had 13 points and four steals for Menlo while Richard Harris contributed nine points and seven rebounds. Freddy Avis also was solid with seven rebounds and six points.
In East Palo Alto, host Eastside Prep got its long-awaited first victory in WBAL action with a 51-37 drubbing of Priory. The host Panthers (1-8, 6-13), who last won on Dec. 17 and had lost 11 straight, ended that streak of futility by jumping out to a 17-8 first-quarter lead and maintaining it throughout.
Senior Leslie Gray led Prep with 21 points and seven rebounds while junior Bryan Walker added nine points, seven rebounds and six steals. Brandon Willhite led Priory (1-8, 8-10) with 21 points while 6-8 Gabor Somogyi added 11 points and 13 rebounds. Priory, however, shot just 26 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers.
Also in East Palo Alto, Mid-Peninsula moved closer to the Private Schools Athletic League title with an 86-62 thumping of host East Palo Alto Academy. The Dragons (8-0, 14-2) were led by Lydell Cardwell's 26 points and 20 from Reggie Williams. Nick Seyer added 18 and Anthony Briggs had 15. Mid-Peninsula jumped out to a 42-24 halftime lead and cruised from there.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton continued to win the close ones, going into overtime on Wednesday before holding off visiting South San Francisco, 47-43. The second-place Bears (5-2, 12-9), who won two games last week by a combined three points, got 14 points from Ian Proulx and 13 from Myles Brewer while Michael Culhane pulled down 15 rebounds. M-A remains two games behind first-place Burlingame (7-0). The Bears will host the Panthers on Friday (7:45 p.m.) in a must-win game for M-A.
Sacred Heart Prep maintained a solid four-point lead over second-place Priory in the West Bay Athletic League race with a 2-0 victory over host Harker on Wednesday. Christian Thaure and Joseph Bolous provided the goals for the Gators (8-0-1, 13-0-1) while Alec Mishra and Brendan Spillane contributed the assists.
Sacred Heart, which has outscored its opposition by 65-7 this season, will host Priory on Friday at 3 p.m., and can take a commanding lead with a triumph.
In Portola Valley, host Priory tuned up for a big showdown with Sacred Heart Prep routing visiting Pinewood, 10-0, on Wednesday. The victory moved Priory to 7-1 in league (8-4-1 overall). Priory senior captain John Jernick scored three goals while senior captain Evan Filipczyk added two goals and two assists to lead the way against Pinewood. Juniors Jake Seawick and Kyle Kosling came off the bench to combine for three goals and two assists.
In Atherton, Menlo School took charge with a three-goal second half en route to a 4-1 WBAL victory over visiting Eastside Prep on Wednesday. Senior Sam Parker scored the eventual winning goal on a feed from freshman John Strong, and assisted on the other three to lead the Knights.
Senior Lowry Yankwich scored in the first half while Strong and sophomore Ryan Karle pitched in with second-half goals. The victory pushes the Knights' record to 4-4-1 in league (4-6-2 overall) heading into Friday's match at Crystal Springs.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained two points behind first-place Burlingme (8-1) following an important 2-1 victory over host Sequoia on Wednesday evening. The Bears improved to 7-1-1 in league (22 points) and 9-2-2 overall as Aaron Oro scored on a penalty kick after Edgardo Molina drew the foul, with Molina providing the winner in the second half while Sequoia played a man down following a red card. Sequoia made it close with a penalty kick in the 71st minute, but the Bears' defense played tough.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division,Palo Alto finally stopped its streak of five straight ties with a 2-0 victory over visiting Santa Clara on Wednesday. John Richardson scored an unassisted goal at the 19-minute mark and Skyler Felt made it 2-0 just three minutes later on an assist from Nittai Malchin. Paly improved to 3-0-5 in league (7-2-6 overall).
Palo Alto will visit Gunn on Friday at 6 p.m. The Titans (1-6-2, 2-10-4) saw their season continue to slip away following a 4-2 loss at Saratoga.
Menlo School rallied from a 3-1 halftime deficit to force a 3-3 deadlock with host Priory in a key West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match on Tuesday in Portola Valley.
The Knights (3-0-3, 4-3-7) took the lead in the 13th minute on a goal by Sophie Sheeline following a cross by Kelly Cavan. One minute later, the Panthers (3-1-2, 8-3-4) tied it on a goal by Aly Perna (assist Eugenia Jernick).
Priory took the lead when Jernick scored in the 18th minute on an assist by Margaret Shields and the same two duplicated that effort again in the 22nd minute for a 3-1 lead.
Menlo finally broke through with three minutes left to play when Maya Norman scored an unassisted goal from 20 yards out. With a surge of momentum, Elle Laub added the tying goal from the same distance just a minute later, allowing Menlo to retain second place in the division by a point over Priory.
Sacred Heart Prep (5-0-1) continues to lead with 16 points.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Gaby Amos-Grosser scored three goals and Etelle Stephan added two as host Pinewood defeated Harker, 5-0. Margo Cilker added three assists for the Panthers (4-2, 9-6-1) while Stephan also contributed an assist.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton dropped a 3-0 decision to host San Mateo. The Bears (3-5-1, 7-3-4) are now tied with Carlmont for fifth place, both with 10 points. San Mateo took over the division lead with 22 points.