Gunn-Paly hoop games
offer more than rivalries
The Palo Alto-Gunn rivalry is always big, no matter the sport and the teams' records. Throw in unbeaten records and a chance to take over sole possession of first place in league play, and the rivalry is all the more intense.
That's the scenario for the schools' basketball teams when they meet Friday night at Palo Alto High.
The girls' game will match Gunn (5-0, 13-2) and Palo Alto (4-0, 11-4) at 6:15 p.m. The winner will take over the top spot in the SCVAL De Anza Division while relegating the loser to second place.
"I think it will be a fun game to play," said Paly coach Scott Peters, whose team lost twice to Gunn last season. "Defense and turnovers. Looking forward to the game."
As is Gunn coach Sarah Stapp.
"Should be a lot of fun," she said. "I'm just hoping that we can take care of the ball better than we did in both of our games against Paly last year. For us, that will be the key to the game. Both teams are athletic and rely heavily on their defensive effort and steals forced, which create an early offense."
The Gunn girls come in riding a five-game winning streak, the most recent triumph coming Wednesday in a 60-31 win over Wilcox. Paly beat the Chargers last week, 39-9.
Gunn and Paly actually have played six common opponents this season, with neither losing. The Titans have averaged 58.3 points in those games while allowing 34.7, with the Vikings' averages at 52.1 and 35. Gunn allowed 207 points while Paly gave up 208. The teams are that close.
For the Gunn girls to win, they need a similar effort like the one they had against Wilcox. Junior Cat Perez had 21 points with nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks. Freshman Zoe Zwerling added 15 points with three rebounds, three assists and four steals while sophomore Claire Klausner and junior Julia Maggioncalda combined for 17 points, five rebounds and seven steals.
Gunn needs to press and cause turnovers, pretty much Paly's game plan. The Titans have scored at least 60 points in their past three games. The Vikings need to make sure that doesn't happen again. Paly can be very good on defense (nine points vs. Wilcox) or just the opposite (65 against Terra Nova).
Gunn has no senior starters while Paly goes with seniors Katerina Peterson and Sydney Davis.
The Gunn at Paly boys' game at 7:45 p.m. should be just as competitive. Both teams, however, come into the showdown having lost their last game — both to Cupertino. Paly lost last Friday, 45-40, while Gunn fell on Tuesday, 50-42.
The Titans (4-1, 12-5) and Vikings (3-1, 9-6) are essentially tied for the division lead, with the winner earning sole possession of the top spot.
Gunn has an all-senior starting lineup of Taylor Perricone, Jack Hannan, Matt Redfield, Cody Carefoot and Anthony Cannon. The Titans average 49.2 points a game with Hannan scoring at 13.6 ppg..
Paly, under first-year coach Adam Sax, is averaging 56.6 ppg with a lineup that includes sophomore EJ Floreal, junior Israel Hakim, senior Max Schmarzo, junior Alec Wong, senior Davante Adams, sophomores Mathias Schmutz and Aldis Petriceks plus junior Tori Prati.
Paly is potentially more explosive, having surpassed 60 points six times with two games over 70. Gunn has scored 60 or more only twice.
Palo Alto is the defending De Anza Division champ, having gone 11-1 last season. Gunn won the title the year before, also going 11-1.
Prior to the boys' game, the Palo Alto football team will be presented with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy, as part of the sixth annual MaxPreps Tour of Champions.
The Vikings finished No. 13 in the final MaxPreps national rankings and is one of 50 schools being honored on this season's tour that recognizes the finest high school football teams in the country.
Gunn (1-2-2, 2-6-4) won its first match since Dec. 4, finally ending a streak of 10 matches without a victory with a 1-0 triumph over visiting Santa Clara in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Wednesday. The winning goal came four minutes into the second half when a Santa Clara player tried to clear the ball from his own box, and it ricocheted off the leg of Gunn's Sammy Hayward and into the Bruins' cage for the only goal of the game.
In the West Bay Athletic League, freshman Isaac Polkinhorne scored a pair of goals, giving him 13 on the season, as first-place Sacred Heart Prep (5-0, 10-0) rolled to a 7-1 victory over visiting Eastside Prep on Wednesday. The Gators have outscored their opposition this season, 47-6.
In another WBAL match, visiting Menlo School (2-2-1, 2-4-2) played to a 0-0 deadlock with King's Academy in Sunnyvale.
Elsewhere, host Priory thumped visiting Crystal Springs, 10-1.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton dropped out of sole possession of first place following a 2-1 loss at Terra Nova on Wednesday in Pacifica. The Bears (3-1-1, 5-2-2) fell behind by 2-0 at halftime before junior Grant Shaffer scored to make a game of it. M-A knocked off Aragon and upset Burlingame to take the division lead last week.