The Palo Alto girls' basketball team won the rebound battle, which helped the Vikings hold on for a 59-51 victory over visiting Mountain View in a SCVAL De Anza Division game Friday night.
The Vikings (7-0, 14-4) were able to hold on to first place thanks to a 50-15 edge in rebounding. Perhaps the biggest rebound came when senior Katerina Peterson grabbed an offensive board and put it back in as the Vikings went up by six with a minute left in the game.
Mariah Philips also contributed in a big way as she came off the bench to hit two clutch three-pointers in the second half. Junior Emilee Osagiede, meanwhile, was the go-to offensive player for the Vikings as she poured in a season-high 23 points, most coming in the paint. The last-place Spartans (0-7, 7-11) put up a fight, handling Paly's press until the Vikings switched to a zone late in the fourth quarter to help secure the victory.
Pulling away from a two-point game at halftime, the Gunn girls' basketball team maintained its hold on second place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a closer-than-expected 46-41 victory over visiting Lynbrook on Friday night. Cat Perez tallied 15 points with six rebounds and three steals for the Titans (6-1, 14-3) while fellow junior Julia Maggioncalda added 11 points and three boards.
"They match up well against us," said Gunn coach Sarah Stapp. "They give us challenges at all the positions."
Similar to their 40-35 win at Lynbrook on January 7, the Titans never were comfortable in earning the win. After opening up a 15-8 lead after one, Lynbrook closed it to 25-23 at half. The third period saw Gunn push their lead to 40-30, but Lynbrook hung tough and never let Gunn cruise in for the easy win.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Menlo School nearly pulled off the upset of the season before finally falling to visiting Eastside Prep, 47-41, in a Foothill Division game on Friday evening.
In a game where the Knights (3-3, 13-7) had a chance to pull into a tie for second place, Menlo trailed by only 42-41 with 50 seconds left to play. That's when Eastside Prep's Hashima Carothers sank a left-handed bank shot for a 44-41 lead. The Panthers (5-1, (14-6) then closed out the important victory.
Eastside Prep, which will host first-place Pinewood on Tuesday with the division lead on the line, was led by senior guard Ahjalee Harvey's 17 points. Fellow seniors Ausjerae Holland and Takara Burse both tallied 10 points while Carothers pulled down 12 rebounds. Menlo was led by Whitney Hooper with 15 points and Maddie Huber with 10 rebounds. The Knights will visit Castilleja on Tuesday, also at 6:30 p.m.
In Palo Alto, senior Natasha von Kaeppler scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the first half, host Castilleja won its first WBAL Foothill Division game of the season with a 36-32 decision over Sacred Heart Prep on Friday night. The teams combined to miss their first nine shots to open the game, setting the tone for the rest of the contest as neither team shot well.
After Sacred Heart Prep broke the second-half seal with a basket to pull to within six, Castilleja reeled off six straight points to push its margin to 12. Sacred Heart then held Castilleja scoreless over the final three minutes of the third while scoring five points of its own to pull to within seven heading into the fourth.
Sacred Heart continued to cut into the deficit as it outscored Castilleja, 8-3, over the first three minutes of the fourth to cap off a 13-3 run to pull to within two. The visiting Gators got no closer as von Kaeppler hit a jumper to push the lead back to four, which was followed up by an Olivia Nicholls' putback to give Castilleja a six-point advantage with two minutes left.
The 25 points moved von Kaeppler past Mika Peterman for second on the Castilleja all-time scoring list with 1,533 career points. von Kaeppler also added a game-high 16 rebounds and four blocks. She also dished out two assists, giving her 250 for her career.
In the PAL Bay Division, a smothering defensive effort by visiting Mills was too much for Menlo-Atherton to overcome as the Bears dropped a 54-44 PAL Bay Division game on Friday night. Mills took M-A (2-4, 6-14) out of its offense while causing numerous turnovers. Anna Crookston Herschlag did her best to keep the Bears in the game with 19 points while Sela Tupou sparked an M-A comeback in the fourth period while finishing with eight points.
Palo Alto outshot host Homestead, 11-3, but it didn't pay off on the scoreboard as the Vikings had to settle for a 0-0 deadlock with the Mustangs in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Friday afternoon. Palo Alto (2-2-2, 5-6-2) had some opportunities, but just couldn't finish against Homestead (1-4-2, 4-5-4), which had a penalty kick blocked by Paly senior keeper Alex Kershner in the 69th minute.
In another De Anza Division contest, visiting Gunn (1-4-2, 6-5-4) dropped a 2-0 decision to Los Altos.