It wasn't pretty, but the Palo Alto girls' basketball team took care of business and opened a two-game lead in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 50-35 drubbing of host Monta Vista on Wednesday night in Cupertino. The Vikings improved to 8-0 in league (15-4 overall) and moved two games ahead of second-place Gunn, which was upset by previously winless Mountain View.
Palo Alto wrapped things up in the first half by jumping to a 16-5 first-quarter lead and extending its advantage to 28-11 by halftime. The Matadors (1-7) scored the first six points of the third quarter, but never could get their deficit to single digits. Paly was led by Sydney Davis, Shamelia Clay and Lindsay Black -- all with 10 points -- while senior Mariah Philips came off the bench with two big three-pointers in the first half to help spark the Vikings.
Gunn, meanwhile, likely took itself out of the championship picture in the division following a 49-42 upset loss to last-place Mountain View in the Titans' gym. Gunn (6-2, 14-4) was held scoreless in the second quarter and was held to a season-low six halftime points while suffering its biggest setback of the season.
With only four games to play, the Titans clearly need help from other teams to have any chance of catching the Vikings. The teams do meet on Feb. 11 at Gunn in a game where Paly could earn no worse than a co-title with a victory.
Junior Cat Perez did have her usual solid game with 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, but sophomore Claire Klausner and freshman Zoe Zwerling were held to a combined 11 points. Gunn did score 36 points in the second half, but the damage already had been done.
Menlo-Atherton continued to win the close ones, going into overtime on Wednesday before holding off visiting South San Francisco, 47-43, in PAL Bay Division action. The second-place Bears (5-2, 12-9), who won two games last week by a combined three points, got 14 points from Ian Proulx and 13 from Myles Brewer while remaining two games behind first-place Burlingame (7-0). The Bears will host the Panthers on Friday (7:45 p.m.) in a must-win game for M-A.
Sacred Heart Prep maintained a solid four-point lead over second-place Priory in the West Bay Athletic League race with a 2-0 victory over host Harker on Wednesday. Christian Thaure and Joseph Bolous provided the goals for the Gators (8-0-1, 13-0-1) while Alec Mishra and Brendan Spillane contributed the assists.
Sacred Heart, which has outscored its opposition by 65-7 this season, will host Priory on Friday at 3 p.m., and can take a commanding lead with a triumph.
In Portola Valley, host Priory tuned up for a big showdown with Sacred Heart Prep routing visiting Pinewood, 10-0, on Wednesday. The victory moved Priory to 7-1 in league (8-4-1 overall). Priory senior captain John Jernick scored three goals while senior captain Evan Filipczyk added two goals and two assists to lead the way against Pinewood. Juniors Jake Seawick and Kyle Kosling came off the bench to combine for three goals and two assists.
In Atherton, Menlo School took charge with a three-goal second half en route to a 4-1 WBAL victory over visiting Eastside Prep on Wednesday. Senior Sam Parker scored the eventual winning goal on a feed from freshman John Strong, and assisted on the other three to lead the Knights.
Senior Lowry Yankwich scored in the first half while Strong and sophomore Ryan Karle pitched in with second-half goals. The victory pushes the Knights' record to 4-4-1 in league (4-6-2 overall) heading into Friday's match at Crystal Springs.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained two points behind first-place Burlingme (8-1) following an important 2-1 victory over host Sequoia on Wednesday evening. The Bears improved to 7-1-1 in league (22 points) and 9-2-2 overall as Aaron Oro scored on a penalty kick after Edgardo Molina drew the foul, with Molina providing the winner in the second half while Sequoia played a man down following a red card. Sequoia made it close with a penalty kick in the 71st minute, but the Bears' defense played tough.
Menlo-Atherton has five matches remaining, the biggest coming next Wednesday at Burlingame at 4 p.m.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto finally stopped its streak of five straight ties with a 2-0 victory over visiting Santa Clara on Wednesday. John Richardson scored an unassisted goal at the 19-minute mark and Skyler Felt made it 2-0 just three minutes later on an assist from Nittai Malchin. Paly improved to 3-0-5 in league (7-2-6 overall).
Palo Alto will visit Gunn on Friday at 6 p.m. The Titans (1-6-2, 2-10-4) saw their season continue to slip away following a 4-2 loss at Saratoga.
Palo Alto grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nina Kelty (assisted by Emily Brown), but the Vikings couldn't hold on and dropped a 2-1 decision to host Monta Vista in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Wednesday. Paly fell to 2-3-2 in league (5-7-2 overall).
Palo Alto will host Gunn on Friday at 6 p.m., on El Camino field. The Titans (1-5-3, 6-6-5) are coming off a 2-2 deadlock with visiting Homestead on Wednesday.