Having to play games and matches at Los Gatos High often have been upsetting to Palo Alto teams, which have seen dreams die at the hands of the host Wildcats over the years.
The Paly girls' volleyball team, for example, went 41-1 this past fall with its only loss at Los Gatos.
There were no upsets like that on Tuesday as the Paly girls' and boys' basketball teams maintained their grips on first place in their respective SCVAL De Anza Division races at the expense of host Los Gatos.
In the tipoff to the varsity doubleheader, the Paly girls followed up their big victory over Gunn last week with a solid 44-34 victory. Defense once again was the key for the Vikings (6-0, 13-4), who held the Wildcats to just two baskets during a 20-minute span from the second to fourth quarters. Los Gatos scored just eight points in the second and third quarters combined, just a single point in the third period.
Paly used a fullcourt trap defense to force Los Gatos into turnovers, resulting in easy baskets for the Vikings. Sydney Davis, Katerina Peterson, Stephanie Allen and Emilee Osagiede sparked the press while Josie Butler was intimidating, as well, with numerous blocks and altered shots. Davis led the way with 12 points.
In the nightcap, Paly sophomore EJ Floreal poured in a season-high 27 points as the Vikings romped to a 75-47 triumph. Palo Alto (5-1, 11-6) had four players in double figures as Charlie Jones and Davante Adams chipped in with 11 points each while Max Schmarzo added 10 as the Vikings posted yet another impressive performance.
Elsewhere in girls' basketball action Tuesday night:
With senior guard Kelsey Morehead pouring in 21 points, Pinewood held on to first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) with a 63-34 thumping of visiting Castilleja. The Panthers (5-0, 14-4) grabbed a 34-19 halftime lead and outscored the Gators (0-4, 9-7) in the second half, 32-15. Hailie Eackles added 13 points for Pinewood, which made nine treys (out of 35 attempts) and had 20 steals.
After holding just a 13-8 first-quarter lead, Pinewood went on a 13-2 run while pushing its lead to 16. Castilleja senior Natasha von Kaeppler had 12 of her 13 points in the first half and finished with just five rebounds while guarding Eackles on the perimeter. Sophomore Lauren Rantz picked up the rebounding slack for the Gators, grabbing a career-high 12, while Laura Rose added 10.
In East Palo Alto, Eastside Prep's one-two senior punch of Ahjalee Harvey and Takara Burse was a knockout combination again as they combined for 37 points in the Panthers' 62-35 victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep in WBAL (Foothill Division) action.
Harvey poured in 23 points while Burse contributed 12 points and 11 assists as the Panthers remained in second place at 4-1 (13-6). Freshman Kimberly Leu scored six points and pulled down seven rebounds while helping Eastside Prep jump out to a 35-16 halftime lead against the visiting Gators (1-4, 9-5).
In San Francisco, Menlo School jumped out to an important 24-14 lead in the first quarter that wound up making the difference in the game as the Knights held on for a 62-56 victory over host Mercy-San Francisco in a WBAL (Foothill Division) game.
The Knights (3-2, 13-6) moved into sole possession of third place with the victory. Drew Edelman led the way with 21 points and 16 rebounds while seniors Emma Paye and Whitney Hooper also contributed in a big way. Paye had 11 points and five assists while Hooper finished with 18 points, making four 3-pointers, as the Knights tuned up for Friday's home-game showdown with second-place Eastside Prep at 6 p.m.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton had a great start but not-so-great finish and dropped a 77-58 decision to first-place Terra Nova in Atherton. The Bears (2-3, 6-13) jumped out to a 16-10 first-quarter lead and held a 36-35 advantage at halftime. The Tigers (5-0), however, roared back in the second half with 42 points to grab the victory. Sela Tupou led M-A with 21 points while Anna Crookston Herschlag added 12.
Despite the fact senior Reed McConnell was sidelined by a sprained ankle, Sacred Heart Prep still had plenty of depth to hold on to its lead in the West Bay Athletic League following a 56-38 victory over host Harker on Tuesday night.
The Gators (7-0, 15-2) received a big 14 points from Pat McNamara with junior Cole McConnell adding 13 and senior Will McConnell tossing in 12. SHP's defense limited Harker to just 11 first-half points as the Gators avenged last season's only league loss.
Reed McConnell is expected to be sidelined two weeks with the ankle sprain, but hopes to be back in time to face second-place Pinewood on Feb. 4 in a showdown for the league title in Los Altos Hills.
Speaking of Pinewood, junior Dante Fraioli bounced back from a scoreless first half to score 18 points in the final two quarters to spark Pinewood to a wild 76-66 victory over host King's Academy in a WBAL game on Tuesday night. Fraioli made six 3-pointers as the Panthers (6-1, 14-3) made 13 while remaining a game back of first-place Sacred Heart Prep.
King's Academy made nine treys and rallied from 15 points down to make a game of it. Kevin Sweat (14 points), Bradley Naumann (11 points) and Solomone Wolfgramm (10) helped Pinewood shoot 62 percent from the field in the second half and 52 percent for the game. Wolfgramm battled foul trouble in the first half, during which he tallied just three points.
In Atherton, Brandon Willhite may have been lighting up the WBAL with his scoring this season, but the Priory senior finally had someone turn out his lights as host Menlo School limited him to just six points on its way to a 59-34 victory on Tuesday night.
Willhite scored 61 points in three games last week and has been averaging over 20. The Knights (4-3, 8-8) limited Willhite to just 3-of-13 shooting and four rebounds with five turnovers. Gabor Somogyi led Priory (1-6, 8-8) with 18 points but was the only player in double figures as the Panthers shot only 20 percent (11 of 55) from the floor. Menlo got 12 points from Jonny Halprin plus 10 points and seven rebounds from Will Miller while Mac Osborne added nine points.
In Hillsborough, visiting Eastside Prep (0-7, 5-12) nearly got its first WBAL victory before falling to host Crystal Springs, 43-42.
In the Private Schools Athletic League, first-place Mid-Peninsula remained solidly atop the league with a 54-34 victory over host Jewish Community School at the Koret Center in San Francisco. The Dragons improved to 6-0 in league (13-2 overall) as Lydell Cardwell scored 21 points and Reggie Williams added 15. Nick Seyer, a 6-foot-5 senior center, grabbed 18 rebounds and added eight points for the winners.