By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The last time the Pinewood girls' basketball team ventured into Eastside Prep's gym was January of 2010. On the line that night was Pinewood's historic 149-game league win streak that began in 1995.
The Panthers saw their regular-season league streak end that night before beginning another that lasted 15 games. Not too surprising, that too came to an end at the hands of the same team in the same gym.
With Eastside Prep senior Ahjalee Harvey hitting an improbable three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime, the host Panthers used that momentum to pull out a 44-40 victory in overtime in a West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) showdown between the league's top two teams on Tuesday night.
"All things happen for a reason, and this was our time," Harvey said.
The victory moved Eastside (6-1, 15-6) into a tie for first place with Pinewood (6-1, 15-5) and avenged Eastside's loss to Pinewood in the opening round of league play. Pinewood, the defending CIF Division V state champion, is now 164-2 in league games since '95.
Despite winning the second game of the regular season, Eastside Prep won't gain the automatic No. 1 seed for the Central Coast Section playoffs because the WBAL changed its bylaws since last season. Now, the league playoff champion will earn the No. 1 seed. Both teams likely will meet again in the WBAL playoffs, CCS tourney and perhaps in NorCals.
Despite not getting the No. 1 seed, Tuesday's victory nonetheless was important for Eastside Prep.
"This was a statement game," Harvey said. "We had to come out strong after losing to them this season. Every time they beat us, they gain confidence and momentum."
Perhaps Eastside Prep now has that momentum, thanks to Harvey's remarkable game-saving shot.
Trailing 38-35 with only seconds remaining, Eastside Prep had to get Harvey the ball as the team's logical three-point shooter. The Panthers did, but Harvey wound up in the corner, trapped by a double team. Somehow, she forced up a three-point shot that swished with 2.7 seconds left. Before Pinewood could call time, the clock expired.
"I was just trying to get rid of it, hoping it would go in," Harvey said.
In overtime, Eastside senior Ausjerae Holland scored the first basket for a 40-38 lead and senior teammate Takara Burse hit a short jumper for a 42-38 lead with 1:45 left.
Pinewood's Hailie Eackles, who led all scorers with 27 points in addition to nine rebounds, found Angelina Mapa for a layin and it was 42-40 with 1:10 left. After both teams missed, Harvey was eventually fouled and calmly made both free throws to clinch the victory.
Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler acknowledged that his team had fouls to take in regulation and should have prevented Harvey from even getting off a shot, but didn't execute the proper strategy -- ultimately costing the defending state champs.
Harvey finished with 15 points while sophomore Hashima Carothers added 13 and proved crucial on the boards with 15 rebounds. Burse added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Eackles carried Pinewood, which managed only 13 points from the rest of the team. Pinewood made only six three-pointers (in 27 attempts) and shot poorly (14 of 52) from the field as Eastside Prep did a solid job with its perimeter defense.
Lost in all the excitement, however, was an injury suffered by Eastside Prep senior guard Leanne Martin. She went down with a knee injury with 5:38 left in the second quarter. Martin was taken to the hospital where it was discovered she has a slight tear of her MCL and will be out from 2-3 weeks.
In other WBAL Foothill Division action on Tuesday:
Menlo School took over sole possession of second place with a 52-49 victory over host Castilleja. Senior Emma Paye preserved the win by grabbing a rebound with 11 seconds left to play and setting up a layup. Drew Edelman led the Knights (4-3, 14-7) with 14 points while Gators' senior Natasha von Kaeppler had 21 points and 10 rebounds for her 60th career double-double.
Castilleja (1-6, 11-10) led by as many as 11 points and took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. A jump hook by Edelman gave Menlo its first lead at 50-49. Trailing by one with 23 seconds left, von Kaeppler had the ball for one final layup that was missed. Castilleja's Laura Rose went up for the rebound, but Paye knocked it out of her hands.
"We tried to foul," said Castilleja coach Jez McIntosh, "and they got the ball to Maddie Huber who made the layup."
Castilleja's Riya Modi threw up a desperation 30-footer at the buzzer that missed, as the victorious Knights finished the game on a 19-6 run. Modi finished with eight points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep (1-6, 10-7) dropped a 45-44 decision to Mercy-San Francisco (3-4, 16-6) despite getting 19 points from Melissa Holland.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton (3-4, 6-15) dropped a 58-51 decision to second-place San Mateo (5-2, 12-8) despite holding a four-point halftime lead. Tennyson Jellins led the Bears with 15 points while Anna Crookston Herschlag was solid at point guard and finished with 12 points.
Menlo School rallied from a 3-1 halftime deficit to force a 3-3 deadlock with host Priory in a key West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match on Tuesday in Portola Valley.
The Knights (3-0-3, 4-3-7) took the lead in the 13th minute on a goal by Sophie Sheeline following a cross by Kelly Cavan. One minute later, the Panthers (3-1-2, 8-3-4) tied it on a goal by Aly Perna (assist Eugenia Jernick).
Priory took the lead when Jernick scored in the 18th minute on an assist by Margaret Shields and the same two duplicated that effort again in the 22nd minute for a 3-1 lead.
Menlo finally broke through with three minutes left to play when Maya Norman scored an unassisted goal from 20 yards out. With a surge of momentum, Elle Laub added the tying goal from the same distance just a minute later, allowing Menlo to retain second place in the division by a point over Priory.
Sacred Heart Prep (5-0-1) continues to lead with 16 points.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Gaby Amos-Grosser scored three goals and Etelle Stephan added two as host Pinewood defeated Harker, 5-0. Margo Cilker added three assists for the Panthers (4-2, 9-6-1) while Stephan also contributed an assist.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton dropped a 3-0 decision to host San Mateo. The Bears (3-5-1, 7-3-4) are now tied with Carlmont for fifth place, both with 10 points. San Mateo took over the division lead with 22 points.