Four local teams win hoop tournament titles

Pinewood boys score a big upset by beating NorCal champ Branson

Winning basketball tournament titles was almost the rule, rather than the exception, during the weekend as four local squads walked off the court with trophies following their respective tourney championships.

The Gunn girls (3-0) won the Burlingame Invitational with 34-27 triumph over Lowell (SF), Castilleja (3-0) captured the Forest Lake Invitational with a 66-22 rout of host Forest Lake Christian, and the Eastside Prep girls (3-0) opened their season by winning the Notre Dame-Belmont Invitational with a 47-33 triumph over host the host team.

Perhaps the most significant tournament championship was won by the Pinewood boys, who swept through the four-game Redwood Classic in Boonville. The Panthers went 4-0, topped by a huge 59-45 triumph over defending NorCal Division V champion Branson on Saturday night.

Branson had won this 53-year-old tournament for the past eight years and had won 10 of the 11 previous titles, while also winning three of the past five state championships. The Bulldogs finished second in 2009.

"This was a night the boys are never going to forget," said Pinewood coach Jason Peery. "Branson has an aura of invincibility, especially after having won this tournament so many times and with all the state championships. The boys just believed in themselves, stayed together and played lock-down defense in the second half. They did a great job of representing our school."

While the victory moved Pinewood to 5-0 this season and dropped Branson to 3-1, it also avenged last season's 49-41 loss to the Bulldogs in the NorCal Division V playoffs.

Pinewood junior Solomone Wolfgramm was named the tourney's Most Valuable Player after scoring 17 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and adding four assists and two steals in the championship game. Joining him on the all-tourney team was junior teammate Cameron Helvey.

Pinewood trailed by 10 at the half, but outscored the Bulldogs 37-14 after intermission -- holding Branson to 3-of-18 shooting from the field. In the four tourney games, Pinewood held opponents to just 34.2 percent shooting from the floor.

Dante Fraioli added 18 points for Pinewood in the finals. The Panthers opened with a 77-36 win over Anderson Valley; toppled St. Vincent de Paul, 66-38; edged Marin Academy, 57-52, to set up the rematch with Branson.

Peery is hoping the victory carries over into the postseason because the top teams the Redwood Classic, which features Division V teams, usually perform well in the playoffs.

Castilleja, meanwhile, continued its dominance in the Forest Lake Invitational by winning it for a third straight time behind a trio of 40-point plus victories. The Gators also beat Elliot Christian, 64-23, and romped past American Christian, 63-21. Castilleja never trailed in any of the games while using its inside presence to dominate.

Castilleja senior Natasha von Kaeppler was named the MVP after scoring 64 points, grabbing 27 rebounds while adding 10 steals and nine blocks. She shot 72 percent from the field in the three wins. She scored 31 points in the finals, which included a school-record 15 field goals in only 22 1/2 minutes of action. The 31 points ranks only behind Eve Zelinger's pair of 33-point games in school history.

Also earning all-tournament honors were junior guard Riya Modi and freshman guard Emily Richardson. Modi tied the school record with a career-high 11 assists in the finals while also pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. She finished with 33 points, 23 assists and eight steals in the three victories. Richardson became the first Castilleja reserve to be named to an all-tourney team. She scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field in three games.

The Eastside Prep girls won their three games at the Notre Dame-Belmont Invitational by an average of 28.3 points. The Panthers have their deepest lineup ever (10 players) and all scored throughout the tourney for coach Donovan Blythe.

Hashima Carothers tallied 38 points and grabbed 32 rebounds in the three wins, including 14 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game. The tourney marked the return of Takara Burse, who missed the end of last season with a torn ACL. She made her first appearance in the semifinals and scored 10 points in a 61-32 win over South San Francisco. Burse then added 11 points in the title game. Ahjalee Harvey, the team's four-year starter at point guard and leading scorer from last season, tallied 13 points in the finale. Senior Ausjerae Holland scored 16 points in the opener.

The Gunn girls got 10 points and six rebounds each from Cat Perez and Claire Klausner in beating Lowell for the Burlingame tourney title. Perez was named the MVP while Klausner joined her on the five-player all-tournament team. The Titans did a good job on the boards with 33 rebounds. Junior Julia Maggioncalda led the way with seven while freshman Zoe Zwerling added six.

The Gunn boys' basketball team, meanwhile, reached the finals of the Aptos tournament before falling to the host team on Saturday, 45-38. Anthony Cannon had 11 points and Jack Hannan added 10 while Taylor Perricone provided six assists for the Titans (2-1). Gunn opened with a 50-35 win over Monte Vista Christian as 6-foot-6 senior Matt Redfield tossed in 20 points and Hannan added 14. In the semifinals, Hannan poured in a career-high 33 points to pace the Titans past Gilroy, 65-54. Perricone added 11 points and five assists.

Gunn will visit Menlo School in a nonleague game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Knights opened their season on Saturday with a 58-45 loss to visiting Menlo-Atherton (3-0) as Marquise Tolson tossed in 18 points. Richard Harris led Menlo with 13 while teammate Jonny Halprin added 10 points and seven rebounds.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports

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