Four members of the football team that played in the CIF Division III state championship game on Dec. 21 also were members of the Gators' hoop squad, whose season already was under way.
Thus, it was easy to see why SHP opened its basketball season with an uncharacteristic 0-3 start.
"We also had four guys injured during that time," said SHP head coach Tony Martinelli. "We were down to five varsity players at one time."
Martinelli had to call up two players from his JV squad, one of which (Connor Moses) wound up sticking.
Nonetheless, said Martinelli, "We had one game when we had only six players. I looked out at the floor and we had more players out there than on the bench."
Practices weren't much better.
"I was searching for things to do," Martinelli explained. "It made it tough for us, but it also challenged us. We like to practice the way we play."
On January 2, however, Martinelli welcomed back his injured players and the four from the football team — Andrew Daschbach, Mason Randall, Justin Harmon and Mitch Martella. What a difference that made in practices and games.
"Night and day," Martinelli said of the difference in having additional bodies.
Two days after having everyone back, the Gators pulled off a shocker with a 48-47 victory over host Serra. On Tuesday night in Sunnyvale, SHP dressed all 14 roster players for the first time.
With Randall and Daschbach combining for 14 points and junior Corbin Koch leading the way with 18 points, including 12 in the second half, Sacred Heart Prep posted a 55-48 victory over host King's Academy in a West Bay Athletic League opener for both teams.
James McLean hit two big free throws following a technical foul on the King's coach, giving the Gators (1-0, 4-4) a 46-35 lead in the third quarter. King's rallied to within 50-46 before Randall sank a 3-pointer to hold off the Knights.
Sacred Heart Prep has only five seniors this season, two of which start — Casey McDonald and Ryan Galvin. Koch has been the team's leading scorer, averaging 19.3 prior to Tuesday's game.
"Corbin has shouldered the offensive load up to now," said Martinelli. "It's nice to have other guys around him now . . . The camaraderie is forming. I already see that winning attitude that came from football. They're just refusing to lose."
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood opened its WBAL season with a big 49-45 victory over visiting Harker. The Panthers (1-0, 9-2) were led by senior Greg Naumann's 18 points. He was 6-for-10 from the field and grabbed four rebounds while helping Pinewood lead at each quarter.
Harker, however, was within 32-31 at the end of three quarters before Pinewood edged ahead for good. Ryan Brice added nine points for Pinewood, which went 3-0 and won the Head Royce Tournament last week with Brice earning MVP honors and Naumann beging named to the all-tournament team.
In Hillsborough, Menlo School snapped a six-game losing streak with a 64-25 victory over host Crystal Springs. The Knights (1-0, 2-9) jumped out to a 30-15 halftime lead and cruised from there while holding the Gryphons to just 10 second-half points. Liam Dunn led Menlo with 15 points while fellow junior Jack Hammond added 10. Alex Grossman finished with nine points and eight rebounds plus four blocks.
On Wednesday, Palo Alto opened its SCVAL De Anza Division season with a 58-45 win over host Los Gatos. The Vikings (1-0, 6-6) made 10 3-pointers and had four players in double figures, paced by 14 points each from Noah Phillips and Kevin Mullin.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn (0-1, 8-4) dropped a 79-52 decision to host Wilcox despite a combined 25 points from Chris Russell and Patrick Skelly.
In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton (0-1, 7-5) opened with a 48-34 loss to visiting Burlingame.
Menlo School jumped out early and easily defeated visiting Urban, 61-38, in nonleague action Tuesday night. Every player on Menlo's roster scored with Hannah Paye leading the way with 13 points.
Mackenzie Duffner led the team with seven rebounds for the Knights (8-4) while D'Jane Stine contributed nine points along five steals.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, both Palo Alto and Gunn opened their respective league seasons on the road and both suffered losses.
The Vikings (0-1, 6-6) dropped a 49-44 decision to host Los Gatos while the Titans (0-1, 1-3) fell to division favorite Wilcox, 56-28. Siggi Bengston led Paly with 14 points while Gunn got eight points from Zoe Zwerling. The Titans trailed by 33-14 at halftime.
In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton (1-0, 8-3) tipped off league play with a 40-26 win over host Burlingame. M-A's Emma Heath, Ofa Sili and Naomi Baer combined for 30 points, but the Bears' defense was the difference as it limited the Panthers to 11 first-half points.
In nonleague action Wednesday, Pinewood (12-1) rolled to a 59-51 win over visiting International as senior Leeana Bade had 15 points and eight rebounds and junior Marissa Hing had 15 points, four assists and four steals.
In Cupertino, sophomore Riley Hemm continued her hot shooting from 3-point range, knocking down a trio and finishing with 17 points as Sacred Heart Prep defeated host Monta Vista, 50-36. Hemm, who has seven treys in two games this week, also helped hold the Matadors scoreless in the third period as the Gators (8-4) built a 32-26 lead. Jane Meehan added 16 points and Meghan Holland had 10 for SHP.