By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Come Saturday night, Doc Scheppler will see his Pinewood gym rocking and rolling. That will mean only one thing -- the Panthers' boys' and girls' basketball teams are playing in the CIF NorCal semifinals.
"They (the boys) have a tougher matchup than we do," said Scheppler, "but, I expect a great atmosphere."
Pinewood hosted a NorCal Division V doubleheader on Thursday night, with the No. 1 girls (25-5) eliminating No. 8 Rincon Valley Christian, 71-52, and the No. 2 boys (23-5) following with a 90-70 romp over No. 7 Bradshaw Christian.
Both Pinewood teams will be back in action in another doubleheader on Saturday in Los Altos Hills. The girls will face No. 5 Bradshaw Christian at 6 p.m., with the boys taking on No. 3 University (San Francisco) at 7:30 p.m.
Bradshaw Christian (24-9) advanced with a 49-29 win over No. 4 Hamilton City while University moved on with a 90-55 romp over Liberty Christian. Saturday's winners will advance to the NorCal championships on March 19 at Folsom High.
If either of the two Pinewood teams are favored, it would be Scheppler's girls. They are the defending Division V state champions and are currently ranked No. 1 in the state by MaxPreps. Nonetheless, nothing is a given at this point in the season.
"Every game is a focus point for us," said Scheppler.
In the other half of the bracket, the No. 2 Eastside Prep girls (22-8) will be hosting No. 3 St. Joseph-Notre Dame (24-4) at 7 p.m.
"Then, who knows?" Scheppler said of the brackets. "We're happy to have them (Bradshaw Christian) in our gym. This will be there third game this week, and they traveled to Hamilton City on Thursday, not a comfy trip, and they get one day to prepare for us, not an easy thing to accomplish."
While Pinewood won its 13th Central Coast Section title in 14 years last Saturday and is favored to reach the NorCal finals, the Panthers will have to be more than just senior Hailie Eackles the rest of the way.
Eackles poured in 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting with 15 rebounds in Thursday's win over Rincon Valley Christian and had 26 points with 11 rebounds in a one-point win over Eastside Prep in the section title game last weekend while continuing to carry the team.
"Yes, they are struggling with their mentality and some with mechanics as shooters," said Scheppler, "but we've ironed them out and are ready. She (Eackles) has carried us for 10-12 games. We need to get some scoring from others and we will. They are too good not to."
Scheppler did get 14 points from senior Miranda Seto on Thursday and senior Caitin Ciardella added a trio of three-pointers for nine points, but the Panthers missed 36 three-pointers. A 25-point second quarter, however, sparked the Panthers to a 37-22 halftime lead.
Keeping pace with Pinewood were the Eastside Prep girls, who advanced to the semifinals with a 54-27 victory over No. 10 Vacaville Christian (21-10) on Thursday. Sophomore Hashima Carothers led the Panthers with 15 points and nine rebounds while senior guard Ahjalee Harvey added 14 points.
Eastside Prep, the state's No. 2-ranked team in Division V according to MaxPreps, raced to a 17-0 first-quarter lead and never was threatened. Freshman Kimberly Leu contributed nine points and five rebounds in a balanced attack.
Eastside Prep will be challenged Saturday by No. 3 St. Joseph-Notre Dame, the state's No. 3-ranked Division V team that advanced with a 71-44 second-round win over No. 6 Brookside Christian.
While Eastside Prep tries to advance to the NorCal finals, the Pinewood boys will be doing the same after racing to its big victory on Thursday.
Pinewood junior Solomone Wolfgramm continued his big postseason by scoring 23 points with 14 rebounds, eight assists and five steals. Wolfgramm is averaging 20 points and 16.3 rebounds over his past three postseason games for the Panthers.
Senior Kyle Riches added 21 points, six rebounds and two assists while junior Dante Fraioli had 13 points, three assists and three steals. Bradley Naumann finished with 11 points and four assists for Pinewood, which held a 46-31 halftime lead.
While the Pinewood boys and girls plus the Eastside Prep girls advanced on Thursday night, the Palo Alto girls and Sacred Heart Prep boys did not.
Fourth-seeded Palo Alto (22-5) saw its magical season end in a 56-34 loss to No. 5 Lincoln of Stockton (27-4) in the Division I quarterfinals while No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep (25-3) dropped a tough 49-48 game to No. 11 St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo (26-8) in Division IV quarterfinal action in Atherton.
"Lincoln was more physical than we were," said Paly coach Scott Peters. "We played behind most of the game. We had trouble running our offense and they hurt us with second-chance points. It was a close game until they blew it open in the fourth. "
The Vikings trailed by 33-25 heading into the fourth quarter before Lincoln ran away with a 23-9 final period.
"We never gave up and played hard," Peters said. "I thought we would make a run in the fourth quarter, but Lincoln, to their credit would not let it happen. I am so proud of the way our team played tonight and the whole season. We're not pretty to watch, but our girls are going to make you work for every inch of the court."
Palo Alto was playing in only the first NorCal game in program history after winning its first-ever CCS crown last weekend. That came on the heels of the Vikings' first 12-0 season ever in the SCVAL De Anza Division.
Paly, however, couldn't continue its success after falling behind 15-5 after one quarter and 26-14 at the half.
Paly junior Emilee Osagiede led the way with 17 points and 14 rebounds, but none of her teammates managed more than five points. Osagiede scored to bring the Vikings to within 30-25, but they got no closer.
Seniors Katerina Peterson, Mariah Philips, Mary Albertolle and Sydney Davis all played their final games in Paly uniform.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep was eliminated from the NorCal playoffs for the second straight season by St. Patrick/St. Vincent after the Gators let an 11-point lead slip away. SHP still held a 48-41 lead with 3 ½ minutes to play, but failed to score after that.
SHP senior Colin Terndrup missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, which set up the winning basket. The Gators had one final attempt to win, but senior Reed McConnell launched a long three-pointer that missed as time expired.
The Gators were outscored from the free-throw line, 16-4, and had no one in double-figure scoring. In addition to Reed McConnell and Terndrup, the game was the final one for fellow seniors Will McConnell, Pat McNamara, Cal Baloff, Zach Watterson and Tomas O'Donnell.