Castilleja moves into holiday hoop championship game

Pinewood girls also will play for a championship

Castilleja senior Natasha von Kaeppler is picking a good time to rewrite the school record book as the Gators have benefited from her scoring and rebounding during the holidays.

On Wednesday, von Kaeppler scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to power the Gators to a 55-24 thumping of Gunderson in the semifinals of the Gold Bracket at the Dons Club Holiday Tournament at Del Mar High in San Jose.

The victory put Castilleja (7-3) into Friday's championship game against San Benito at 3:30 p.m.

The 23 points by von Kaeppler included a free throw in the first quarter that made her No. 1 in school history for free throws made, moving her past Nikki Perlman. One game earlier, von Kaeppler surpassed Perlman as the school's all-time career rebounder.

Castilleja put the game away in the first quarter with a 23-0 outburst as von Kaeppler tallied nine points, including a free throw to break the school scoring mark. Junior guard Riya Modi hit a 30-footer as time expired to end the first-quarter highlight reel.

In addition to her 23 points and 18 rebounds, von Kaeppler added five assists, five steals and a career-high eight blocks. While she became the first player in school history to record 50 career double-doubles, von Kaeppler became the first Gator to have at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in the same game.

Castilleja sophomore Olivia Nicholls pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds to go with 11 points. Castilleja outscored Gunderson in the paint, 40-10, and 17-1 in second-chance points.

At the St. Ignatius Sand Dune Classic, Pinewood advanced to the championship game with a 53-31 romp over Olympian in San Francisco on Wednesday. Senior Hailie Eackles led the Panthers (8-2) with 20 points, including four 3-pointers as Pinewood outscored Olympian in the second quarter, 22-0, to pull away.

At the annual West Coast Jamboree, Palo Alto captured the consolation title in the Jade Division by defeating Natomas, 48-39, on Wednesday at Alhambra High. The Vikings (8-3) got 13 points from senior Katerina Peterson and 10 from Sydney Davis.

In the elite Platinum Division, Eastside Prep suffered its third straight loss while falling to host Deer Valley, 59-54. The Panthers (7-5) trailed by eight after one quarter and by 13 at halftime. Senior Takara Burse led Prep with 18 points while junior Hashima Carothers scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Senior guard Ahjalee Harvey added 11 points for the Panthers, who are playing in the tournament's toughest division this week.

In nonleague action, Drew Edelman and Maddie Price combined for 41 points as Menlo School rolled to a 70-56 victory over Hawaii Prep in the second game of a three-game tour of the Big Island of Hawaii on Wednesday. Price, a freshman, made nine of 12 shots to go with four steals and three assists. The Knights (8-2) will play nationally ranked Konawaena High on Friday, a team that recently beat Central Coast Section power Mitty.

Boys' basketball

Menlo School advanced to the fifth-place game of the Chaminade Christmas Classic with a 54-44 victory over Granada Hills on Wednesday at Chaminade Prep in West Hills. The Knights (4-4) got 17 points and four steals from Mac Osborne while Richard Harris added 11 points and 12 rebounds. Jonny Halprin contributed 11 points and four assists for Menlo, which will face the St. Bonaventure-Dominguez winner on Thursday.

At the Tim Cole Classic in Fremont, Michael Culhane tallied 13 points and Myles Brewer added 10 but Menlo-Atherton couldn't get anyone else in double figures as the Bears (5-6) dropped a 46-39 overtime decision to Washington (Fremont) in the second round at American High in Fremont on Wednesday. Ian Proulx pulled down 10 rebounds for M-A.

At the Gryphons Holiday Classic at Crystal Springs in Hillsborough, Mid-Peninsula dropped a 44-41 decision to Hillsdale in the semifinals. Lydell Cardwell was limited to 13 points as the Dragons fell to 6-2. Mid-Peninsula will play for third place.

At the St. Francis Holiday Basketball Classic, Palo Alto (6-4) got 15 points from E.J. Floreal and Hakim Israel in a 67-46 victory over Aragon in a consolation semifinal game. The Vikings will play Deer Valley for the consolation title on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Girls' soccer

Sacred Heart Prep advanced to the semifinals of the Excalibur Tournament in Santa Ana with a 1-0 victory over Capistrano Valley High on Wednesday. The Gators (4-2-1) will face No. 6-seeded Los Alamitos in the semifinals on Thursday at San Clemente High. A victory will put SHP into the championship match at 6:30 p.m.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports/Stephen Kauffman contributed Castilleja information

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