The basketball season has been extended at least one more game each for the Woodside Priory boys and Eastside Prep girls, both of whom opened the CIF NorCal Division V playoffs on Tuesday with very dissimilar victories.
In Auburn, the Panthers of Priory rode a career-high performance by 7-foot-2 senior Greg Somogyi to eliminate No. 4 seed Forest Lake Christian, 75-47. Somogyi poured in 33 points with 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots as the No. 5-seeded Panthers (25-5) advanced to the semifinals on Thursday.
In East Palo Alto, the Panthers of Eastside Prep were carried by 6-1 senior Samantha Bunch, to tallied 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a 43-38 triumph over No. 6 Head Royce (Oakland). Eastside Prep (30-1) also advances to the semifinals Thursday.
The next step will be a difficult one for both local teams. Woodside Priory must face No. 1 Branson (29-3) in Marin County while Eastside Prep must tangle with No. 2 Liberty Christian (30-1) of Redding. The winners will advance to the NorCal championship games at Folsom High (outside of Sacramento) on Saturday, the girls playing at 1 p.m. and the boys at 3 p.m.
Woodside Priory certainly has the personnel to continue its postseason trip, especially if the Panthers repeat Tuesday's effort.
"I think Saturday got our attention," said Priory coach Al Klein, referring to last weekend's 45-44 loss to Sacred Heart Prep in the Central Coast Section Division V championship game. It was a game where the Panthers led and then let slip away as they missed 12 of 16 free-throw attempts and failed to get the ball to Somogyi in crunch time.
Against Forest Lake Christian, Somogyi took advantage of being guarded one-on-one and made the host team pay dearly. It was a dominating performance that many have been waiting to see out of Somogyi, who is headed for UC Santa Barbara on a scholarship next fall.
"Greg played great," Klein said. "It's the first time all season that Greg has seen single coverage. He destroyed them."
Forest Lake Christian put a 6-6 sophomore on Somogyi and decided not to slide another defender over when Somogyi got the ball. He wound up with numerous dunks among his 15 field goals.
"He was fired up," Klein said. "He didn't get greedy . . . He was focused. I knew he could do that . . . Dunks are pretty reliable."
Forest Lake Christian also played into another Priory strength, which is getting up and down the floor quickly.
"It was a fun game," Klein said. "It was our most intense and focused game (this season) for 32 minutes. I was proud of the kids to go on the road and play that decisively."
When Forest Lake discovered it couldn't guard Somogyi, it tried numerous other maneuvers but none worked.
"They pressed us, and we broke the press," Klein said. "We just played better."
In addition to Somogyi's huge effort, 6-3 junior forward Ignas Pavilonis added 18 points. Equally important was the Panthers' defensive effort.
After forging a 42-25 halftime lead, Priory opened the third quarter with a handful of quick baskets to really open a gap and take the hometown crowd out of the game.
The competition will be considerably tougher on Thursday when Priory faces the two-time defending Division V state champions at the College of Marin at 7:30 p.m.
"It's not going to be the same tempo," said Klein, noting that Branson likes to work the shot clock down and force opponents to make defensive mistakes.
Branson eliminated No. 8 Tulelake, 65-46, in another first-round game Tuesday. Branson took a 33-4 lead and coasted.
Branson is expecting to face not only Somogyi but 6-9 Dinko Marshavelski, who is sidelined with a fractured foot.
"We're going to have to figure out how to play this because they don't go to Somogyi a whole lot," said Branson coach Jonas Honick, who evidently didn't hear about Priory's first-round win or that Marshavelski is injured.
"All our guys (except one) played him (Somogyi) this summer (in club basketball) so they know about him. I just think it's going to be a real challenge. It'll be a real grind-it out game. They don't fast break a whole lot; their coach likes the halfcourt. We'll definitely look to try to run. The big guy doesn't get up and down the court so fast, so our guys should be able to beat him down the court."
The No. 3-seeded Eastside Prep girls, meanwhile, will have their hands full with No. 2 Liberty Christian on Thursday. Liberty features 6-7 Jessica Oestreicher and three other players who are scoring in double figures. Liberty Christian eliminated No. 7 Wilton Christian, 58-40, on Tuesday.
Oestreicher, however, missed Tuesday's game due to illness while fellow starter Lauren Arrowsmith sat out with a knee injury. With those two in the lineup the last time Liberty Christian played Wilton Christian, the Patriots posed a 69-28 win.
Eastside Prep, meanwhile, had its hands full Tuesday because sophomore Felicia Anderson was ill with stomach cramps. She nonetheless played, scoring just three points, but still made a difference just being in the lineup.
Head Royce, beaten by Eastside Prep last month, 55-24, in the Bentley Shootout, actually took the lead at 28-27 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. The Panthers grabbed a one-point lead early in the fourth period before Bunch and freshman Ahjalee Harvey both picked up their fourth fouls with almost five minutes to play.
With only seven players on their roster -- six of whom play -- and Anderson under the weather, Bunch nonetheless stepped up. She broke a 33-33 deadlock by grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back in, accomplishing that twice in quick fashion. She then made a steal and fired a pass to Anderson, who made her only basket of the game.
In just 52 seconds, the Panthers moved to a 39-33 lead and Head Royce never threatened after that.
Freshmen Ahjalee Harvey and Ausjerae Holland added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Harvey also had five steals while Holland contributed six rebounds. Junior Shayla Bunch added six points for the winners, who have won 24 straight games this season.
Division IV boys
Menlo School accomplished a lot this season with a PAL South Division regular-season title and its first CCS crown since 1991. Yet, No. 4 Menlo (23-8) saw its successful season come to a conclusion on Tuesday night in a 53-36 setback to No. 5 Colfax (28-3) in the opening round of the CIF NorCal playoffs in Atherton.
"We had a great season, to see the guys develop and see the program change," said fourth-year Menlo coach Kris Weems. "We tell the players to write their own history. We won CCS and the whole experience of the playoffs was great."
Tuesday's contest was a matchup of two well-coached teams that focused on defense and ran their offensive sets with patience. The big difference was that Menlo appeared a bit nervous, evident in just 12-of-40 shooting from the field with 19 turnovers.
"Our shots weren't falling and some of it was nerves," said Weems. "This will give us motivation the next time around."
Colfax took advantage of eight Menlo turnovers in the first half en route to a 22-16 lead at the intermission. Junior forward Max Glenn led the Knights in the first half with seven points and four rebounds.
In a sloppy second half, Colfax extended its halftime lead to 27-18 in the first 1:22 of the third quarter, only to see Menlo fight back in the next 1:23 to cut the lead to 27-24.
Trailing 30-26 after three quarters, Menlo found no continuity in the fourth quarter by connecting on just one of 15 shots from the field while Colfax make 5 of 8 shots and 13 free throws to outscore Menlo, 23-10, in the final quarter.
Glenn led the Knights with 11 points and was assisted by senior Max Frye, who netted nine points. Menlo will lose seven talented seniors, but returns enough talent, including junior forward Alex Smith, to make another run at the NorCal playoffs in 2009. Smith was hobbled on an injured knee all season and didn't play on Tuesday.
"I feel good about our personnel next year," said Weems. "We have some nice talent coming back."
Division II boys
Menlo-Atherton saw its season end in a 65-60 loss to host Rocklin on Tuesday night in the opening round of the CIF NorCal Division II playoffs. The Bears (21-11) were seeded No. 7 while Rocklin was No. 2.
Brendan Lane, a 6-10 center who has drawn interest from Stanford, led the Thunder with 22 points. The Bears weren't intimidated by Lane, however, and held a 38-33 halftime lead as Lane had just seven points. Lane, however, produced nine of his 15 second-half points in the fourth quarter to help shoot down the Bears' hopes.
M-A still held a 53-49 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Lane hit two free throws to tie the game at 53 with 3:34 left. The Bears' Richard Branning knocked down a long three-pointer with 20 seconds to play to bring M-A to within 62-60, but Rocklin cashed in at the free-throw line to end the Bears' season.
Branning finished with 20 points while fellow senior Brendan McGrath contributed 16 and junior Sam Knapp had 10.
Division V boys
Central Coast Section Division V champion Sacred Heart Prep saw its season end suddenly on Tuesday night in a 58-50 loss to visiting Lick-Wilmerding in the opening round of the CIF NorCal Division V playoffs at St. Joseph's Middle School in Atherton.
The Gators (19-9) came in seeded No. 3 while Lick-Wilmerding (San Francisco) was No. 6.
SHP seniors Mike Nakamura and Bryan Harris each scored 15 points in their final prep games. Harris scored 13 of his points in the first half as the teams battled to a 29-29 deadlock. The Gators, however, couldn't contain Lick's 5-10 guard Marcus Wells, who scored 24 points with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He was the tallest player on the floor for the visitors.
The Gators closed to within three points twice in the fourth quarter, but each team Lick-Wilmerding had an answer.
Craig Wentz contributed to this story