Palo Alto, Menlo girls clash in basketball tourney semifinals


Either the Palo Alto or Menlo School girls will be playing for the championship of the Steve Geramoni Invitational on Tuesday night at Notre Dame-Belmont.

Which basketball team earns that right will be determined on Monday evening when the Vikings (8-1) and Knights (5-1) clash in a semifinal at 6 p.m.

Palo Alto advanced with a 62-40 romp over Moreau Catholic (6-3) on Saturday and Menlo held off Washington of San Francisco, 58-51.

The Vikings grabbed a 19-13 first-quarter lead but trailed at halftime, 33-32. Paly turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and outscored Moreau Catholic by 30-7.

Analisa Duharte of Moreau Catholic had 19 points in the first half, but Paly's Julie Chandler, Maya Lahti and Coco Lovely held her to just two points after intermission.

"Coco Lovely's energy and effort was inspirational for our team," said Paly coach Scott Peters. "Junior point guard Maddy Atwater was a calming influence on the offensive end."

Atwater finished with 13 points, as did Lauren Koyama. Lovely contributed 12 and Lahti eight.

Menlo School, meanwhile, got 23 points from Sam Erisman and 11 from Mackenzie Duffner in defeating Washington. The Knights overcame a woeful 18-of-39 effort from the free-throw line, pulling away from a 27-26 advantage at halftime.

In Newark, Menlo-Atherton rolled to a 48-15 victory over Balboa (San Francisco) in the opening round of the Newark Memorial Tournament. M-A (6-2) opened with a 7-0 run and never looked back. The Bears' youth was on display with freshman Carly McLanahan and Greer Hoyem combining for 13 first-half points.

In the second half, the Bears' defense held the Lady Bucs to four points while M-A guards Annalisa Crowe and Maddy Kim hit 3-pointers to put the game away.

In Salinas, Castilleja senior co-captain Paige Vermeer scored 21 second-half points and became the school's all-time steals leader as the Gators came from behind to edge Mills, 41-38, in the quarterfinals of the Monterey Bay Sweet 16 Tournament at Hartnell College. The Gators (7-2) will play in Monday's semifinals.

Castilleja had a sluggish first half on offense and trailed 14-13 at intermission. Ellie Chen had seven second-quarter points. Chen and Vermeer combined for all of Castilleja's points in the third quarter, which ended with the Vikings still ahead by 29-26. The Yale-bound Vermeer then took over, single-handidly outscoring Mills in the final period and finally giving the Gators the lead with under a minute remaining.

Vermeer finished with 23 points. Her five steals moved her past Natasha von Kaeppler ('11) for most all-time at Castilleja, with 343 career steals. Chen added 14 points and Chela Davila and Maddie Tarr combined for 13 rebounds.

In East Palo Alto, Eastside Prep opened an early lead and defeated visiting Fairfax, the defending Los Angeles City champ, by a 41-38 count in the opening round of the Elite Division at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Saturday. The Panthers (9-1) got 16 points from Brije Byers and 14 from fellow senior Destiny Graham while recording the impressive victory. Margurite Effa, bound for USC, scored 22 points for Fairfax.

Eastside Prep will host St. Francis on Monday at 7:30 p.m., in the second round of the round-robin event. The Panthers will close 2014 by hosting Mitty on Tuesday, also at 7:30 p.m.

In Watsonville, Sacred Heart Prep (7-1) will open play in the Monte Vista Christian Invitational at 2 p.m. The tourney concludes Wednesday.

Boys basketball

Sacred Heart Prep won its fifth straight and continued its high-scoring ways with an 85-42 romp over York in the opening round of the San Diego Surf N Slam Tournament at Scripps Ranch High. SHP is averaging 84 points over its past two games.

Senior forward Corbin Koch poured in 24 points for the Gators (5-1), who got a combined 31 points from junior guards Conner Moses (17) and Mason Randall (14). SHP hit nine 3-pointers, with Randall draining four. The Gators scored 52 points over the second and third periods and next will play on Monday at 4:45 p.m.

In Mountain View, Pinewood held Mountain View scoreless in the first quarter and rolled to a 46-23 victory in the opening round of the St. Francis Holiday Tournament. The Panthers (5-1) held an 11-0 first-quarter lead and improved that to 24-6 by halftime. Senior Ryan Brice led Pinewood with 15 points with Jordan Riches adding nine for the Panthers, who were playing their first game after the holiday break.

"I was extremely proud of our players, who spent over a week without playing a game and managed to find their rhythm and timing to pull out the win against a well-coached Mountain View team," said Pinewood coach Mani Messy, whose team takes on San Ramon Valley on Monday at 6:15 p.m.

In West Hills, Menlo School (5-2) dropped a 60-39 decision to Valencia in the second round of the Chaminade Christmas Classic in Southern California.

In Sonoma, Palo Alto (5-2) will open play in the Windsor Tournament on Monday against Maria Carrillo at 3 p.m.

Elsewhere, Menlo-Atherton (3-5) will visit Carmel High on Monday at 7 p.m. The Bears also will be at Pacific Grove on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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