By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
This has been quite a remarkable season for the Palo Alto girls' basketball team. The Vikings captured their first SCVAL De Anza Division title since 2006 while sweeping through the league with the first 12-0 record in school history.
While the Vikings have accomplished so much while compiling a 19-4 record, there is so much more to achieve. In fact, everything thus far can be considered a mere tuneup for what's to come – the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Palo Alto's standout season was reflected in its seeding on Sunday for the Division I playoffs – a No. 1. This is the first time the Vikings have ever been seeded that high.
"We are very happy with it," said Paly coach Scott Peters. "One of the reasons we received the No. 1 seed was the wars we won against Gunn. They are a tough team that I expect will make it to the championship game. It is pretty cool to have two teams from Palo Alto in the top three seeds in the bracket."
Palo Alto has a double-bye into Saturday's quarterfinals at Hartnell College in Salinas, where the Vikings could open against No. 8 seed Milpitas (13-11) from the SCVAL El Camino Division.
In the top half of the bracket is Gunn (17-5), which received the No. 3 seed and could face No. 6 San Benito (16-8) in the quarterfinals. A victory by the Titans likely would earn them a date with No. 2 Gilroy (21-1) in the semifinals, while Paly could face No. 4 Oak Grove (20-4).
The perfect scenario for Palo Alto, of course, would be to meet Gunn in the championship game on March 5 at Santa Clara University, with both teams then advancing to the NorCal playoffs. The Vikings already have beaten the Titans twice this season.
The Palo Alto girls aren't the only No. 1 seeds from the local area. The Sacred Heart Prep and Pinewood boys also received top seeds in Division IV and V, respectively, while the Pinewood girls are No. 1 in Division V.
The Gators (22-2) won't open until Saturday, where they will play the winner of No. 8 Half Moon Bay (18-9) and No. 9 Monte Vista Christian (15-14) at Menlo School. A victory means a likely date with No. 4 Carmel (20-4) in the semifinals. Sacred Heart Prep is the defending champion and a heavy favorite to repeat.
In the half of the bracket, Menlo School (12-13) is seeded No. 6 and will open Thursday against the winner of No. 14 Scotts Valley (7-17) and Marina (13-11).
The Pinewood boys (19-5), who finished second to SHP in the West Bay Athletic League this season, will begin defense of their No. 1 seed on Saturday at St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic in Watsonville. The Panthers will face the winner of No. 8 Jewish Community (15-7) and No. 9 Alma Heights (11-11), both from the Private Schools Athletic League.
Should Pinewood reach the semifinals as expected, it will face another WBAL team – either No. 5 Priory (10-11) or No. 4 Crystal Springs (12-12). Pinewood has beaten both teams twice already this season. Prior will host the winner of No. 13 Kehillah Jewish (10-11) and No. 12 Anzar on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Also in Division V will be Eastside Prep (6-18), which finished last in the WBAL. The No. 11 Panthers will host No. 14 G.B. Kirby (8-9) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Two victories will earn Eastside Prep a date with No. 3 Mid-Peninsula (19-2) in Saturday's quarterfinals. The Dragons scored 101 points to win the PSAL playoff title last week.
In boys' Division I, Menlo-Atherton (12-13) got the No. 11 seed and will open against No. 14 Carlmont (16-8) on the Bears' floor Tuesday at 7 p.m. Gunn (15-9) is the No. 8 seed and will host either No. 9 Watsonville or No. 16 Wilcox on Thursday at 7 p.m.
In boys' Division II, SCVAL De Anza Division champ Palo Alto (18-6) is seeded No. 4 and will open Saturday, most likely against No. 5 Cupertino (17-7), the only team to beat the Vikings during the league season. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be at Foothill College.
The Vikings, however, are in the same half of the bracket as No. 1 Mitty (25-2), the team that eliminated Paly in last season's semifinals. Should both teams win on Saturday, they'll meet in the semis again.
The girls' Division V race once again looks to be between Pinewood (21-5) and No. 2 Eastside Prep (19-7). Pinewood will have homecourt advantage in the quarters and semifinals, opening Saturday against either No. 8 Summit Prep (10-7) or No. 9 Anzar (8-14). Eastside Prep will face the winner of No. 7 Jewish Community (13-6) and No. 10 East Palo Alto Academy (7-4) while No. 3 Castilleja (12-14) will take on either No. 6 Pacific Collegiate (13-10) or Kehillah Jewish (9-8).
Should Eastside Prep and Castilleja advance as expected, they'll meet in the semifinals on March 2 in Los Altos Hills.
In Division IV, two more WBAL teams will be vying for honors there. No. 6 Sacred Heart Prep (12-10) will open Thursday at home against either No. 11 Harker(19-4) or Gonzales (13-11). On Saturday, No. 4 Menlo School (16-10) likely will face WBAL opponent Mercy-San Francisco (18-8), seeded fifth, at Notre Dame-Belmont.