With senior Hailie Eackles scoring 26 points, the Pinewood girls' basketball team earned at least a share of the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) title with a 71-47 victory over host Castilleja on Thursday night. Eastside Prep (8-1) can finish tied with Pinewood for the second straight season by beating Mercy-San Francisco on Friday night.
Pinewood pulled away quickly with 23 first-quarter points and held a 42-25 halftime lead despite 14 points and 10 rebounds from Castilleja senior Natasha von Kaeppler, who finished the game with 22 points and 14 boards. She finishes the 10-game league season with 204 points, 131 rebounds and 31 blocks and steals. Her 13.1 rebounds per game are a Castilleja record for a single league season.
Pinewood, however, ended Castilleja's streak of 10 straight wins on Senior Night by shooting 50 percent from the field. Miranda Seto and Angelina Mapa added 13 points each for the Panthers. Castilleja's last loss on senior night came on February 4, 2000.
Pinewood set the tone early in the contest as it bottomed in a pair of its nine treys to go up 6-2 in the opening minutes. The Panthers gained separation midway through the first as they outscored Castilleja 13-6 to close out the opening frame.
The second quarter saw Pinewood continue to control the game as the Panthers outscored Castilleja 17-0 on fastbreak points in the first half and 19-8 on points off turnovers while shooting 59 percent from the field. The Gators took better care of the ball in the second half, allowing Pinewood to add just seven points to their 17-point halftime cushion.
Castilleja senior Laura Rose grabbed seven of her nine boards in the second half while senior Abby Thornburg finished the game with six points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Sophomore Riya Modi led the Gators with five assists and three steals.
Castilleja will open up the league playoffs on Tuesday at Menlo School against either Notre Dame-San Jose or Harker.
Gunn finished off a 6-0 season in the SCVAL El Camino Division with a 54-6 romp over host Harker on Thursday as the Titans concluded an 8-1 overall campaign.
Gunn senior Stefan Weidemann put his undefeated record on the line by moving up to 160 pounds to wrestle the No. 3-ranked Chris McCallacreary of Harker, ranked No. 3 in his weight class in the Central Coast Section. Weidemann, ranked No. 1 in the CCS at 152 pounds, did not disappoint and remained perfect with a 10-1 major decision.
On Saturday, the Titans will take their varsity squad to the SCVAL Championships at Wilcox High, a 15-team qualifier for the CCS Championships in two weeks. One must place in the top six in his weight division to qualify for CCS.
Gunn coach Chris Horpel isn't quite sure how his team will fare against the upper De Anza Division wrestlers.
"It's really hard to tell." he said. "I think we will have a fair number of CCS qualifiers, but with 15 teams, a lot of them teams we did not see much of this year."
One sure bet for Gunn is Weidemann at 152 pounds. He's undefeated this season.
"Our second-best bet to win a league title is our 119-pounder, Eric Cramer," Horpel said. "I think we have about seven solid wrestlers right now."
Meanwhile, Palo Alto coach Dave Duran is a bit more optimistic after finishing 5-1 during the De Anza Division dual-match regular season.
"It looks like a three-team race for the 15-team tournament championship — Palo Alto, Cupertino and Los Gatos," Duran said. "Cupertino is the favorite. They have the best tournament team in the league. They have six or seven wrestlers that are big-point scorers. LG has five point scorers; we have our share, as well."
Paly's best bets to challenge for honors are Kalen Gans (160), Nick Ortiz (125), Joey Christopherson (119) and Trent Marshall (130).
"All placed multiple times this season," Duran said. "They all have the potential to win the league . . . Sophomore Erik Anderson has been improving every week and will do some damage at 171 pounds. Junior Ryan Oshima (154) is back from surgery (August). He is extremely dangerous. People do not want to wrestle him. He has state potential.
"We will need our young wrestlers to come back through the wrestle backs. If we can get those wrestlers in the third- and fifth-place matches, we can win the tournament."
At the PAL championships at Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton will have its hands full after breezing through the PAL Ocean Division for the second straight season.
"League finals will be interesting," said M-A coach Peter Wright. "We will only have 8-9 wrestlers competing at the varsity level, so the team finish is not all that important to us (although I would love to improve on last year's fifth-place finish). We have some wrestlers where winning two matches this weekend would be a big step. But, that being said, every one of the varsity wrestlers is expecting/hoping to place and won't be happy settling for just a win or two.
"We have three or four contenders for a league title, and a couple others that could pull out a shocker. Andre Delagnes, at 119, is a strong contender (dare I say, favorite) to win the weight class as is Koji Kameda at 152. A pair of brothers, Anthony and Dino Andrighetto, will likely place and have an outside chance to each win a league title at 103 and 125, respectively. And Austin Escobedo is returning from injury looking to improve on his fourth-place finish at 215 last year."