Early injury problems aside,
Pinewood girls are ready
for a championship run
With two of its four injured players back, the Pinewood girls' basketball team is just beginning to hit its stride at the right time of the season. That, of course, is not good news to the rest of the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) or the other Division V teams in the Central Coast Section.
The defending CCS and NorCal champion Panthers continued to show why they're sharing first place in the WBAL (Foothill Division) race following yet another dominating performance in a 63-37 romp over visiting Castilleja on Tuesday night.
The Panthers (6-1, 15-5) won their sixth straight and ninth in the past 10 games and remained tied for the top spot with Eastside Prep. The Gators (3-4, 14-6), meanwhile, fell into a three-way tie for second while losing their fourth league game for only the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Junior Kelsey Morehead led Pinewood with a season-high 24 points while juniors Miranda Seto and Hailie Eackles added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Castilleja scoring leaders Natasha von Kaeppler and Eve Zelinger both were held way below their season averages, scoring nine and eight points, respectively. Zelinger fouled out with four minutes left in the fourth period. Sophomore Riya Modi led Castilleja with 12 points.
The two teams exchanged leads in the first quarter, but it was Zelinger picking up her third personal foul in the opening frame that proved to be the deciding factor. In the second quarter, after Castilleja tied the game at 10, Pinewood put the game out of reach with an 18-0 run — posting the first 20-point quarter by a Castilleja opponent this season to take a 19-point halftime lead.
There was no slowing the Panthers down in the second half as they followed up a 20-point second quarter with a 21-point third quarter, marking the first time since March 2005 that Castilleja had allowed 20-points in back-to-back quarters. Morehead scored 18 points over the second and third quarters. Castilleja's offense picked up somewhat in the second half as the Gators were able to score 26 in the final two frames to match their 37-point output when the teams met at Castilleja earlier in the season.
In San Francisco, Eastside Prep kept pace with Pinewood by handing host Mercy-San Francisco a 55-48 defeat on Tuesday night. Senior Felicia Anderson led the Panthers (6-1, 17-3) with 19 points while junior Ahjalee Harvey added 13 and freshman Hashima Carothers contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Panthers fell behind by 24-9 after the opening quarter, but stepped it up defensively by allowing the Skippers only single-digit scoring over the final three quarters.
Eastside Prep will host Castilleja on Friday at 5 p.m., perhaps the last hurdle for the Panthers to what appears to be a co-championship with Pinewood.
In Atherton, Menlo School snapped a four-game losing streak with a 55-30 romp over visiting Sacred Heart Prep in a WBAL (Foothill Division) game on Tuesday night. The Knights (3-4, 12-8) received strong play from Drew Edelman (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Lauren Lete (12) with junior Emma Paye adding 10 points and nine boards.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, visiting Gunn pulled into a fourth-place tie following a 51-39 victory at last-place Saratoga on Tuesday night.
The Titans (4-4, 7-10) continued their quest for a postseason playoff berth as freshman Claire Klausner scored 14 points and Julia Maggioncalda added 10. Gunn clamped down defensively in the first half while taking a 28-17 lead. The Titans will host Palo Alto (3-4, 10-7) on Friday (6:15 p.m.) in another must-win game for both teams.
In the PAL Bay Division, visiting Menlo-Atherton dropped a 58-41 decision to Aragon, which went on a 19-2 tear in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Aragon (6-1, 15-4) remains the division co-leader along with Terra Nova (6-1, 13-8) while Menlo-Atherton fell to 3-4 in league (8-13 overall).
The Bears built an early lead behind the play of sophomore forward Tennyson Jellins, who scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. Jessica Tuliau led the Bears with 16 points while teammate Victoria Fakalata added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Sacred Heart Prep remained atop the West Bay Athletic League standings with a dominating 55-31 victory over rival Menlo on Tuesday night in the Knights' gym. The Gators improved to 8-1 in league (14-5 overall) and maintained their one-game lead over Pinewood and Harker in the tight league race.
Junior Reed McConnell continued his consistent offensive production, leading the Gators with 15 points. His twin brother, Will, chipped in with 12 points. The Knights managed only a combined 10 points in the first and third quarters and trailed, 45-20, entering the final period. Sacred Heart Prep did a good job of limiting the Menlo three-point shooters to a single trey.
In Los Altos Hills, all 11 players who suited up scored for Pinewood en route to a 74-48 romp over visiting King's Academy in another WBAL game. The co-second place Panthers (7-2, 14-4) shot 10-for-21 from 3-point range including that included two 3-pointers from five different players — including recently returned junior Arun Sundaresan, who has missed the past six weeks with a partially torn ACL.
Pinewood is still playing without junior starter Kyle Riches, who broke his hand in Pinewood's loss at Sacred Heart on January 22. With Riches out, everyone has stepped up and played well to help the Panthers move up in the standings. On Tuesday, senior Max Lippe had 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists despite battling an illness that sent him home from school on Monday. Sophomores Dante Fraioli and Solomone Wolfgramm combined for 25 points.
Pinewood will host Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) in a game that could go a long way in determining the league champion.