Palo Alto girls shoot past Menlo and into title game


Sophomore guard Lauren Koyama drilled six 3-pointers for a game-high 18 points to lead the Palo Alto girls to a 51-44 basketball victory over Menlo School in the Steve Geramoni Invitational semifinals on Monday at Notre Dame-Belmont.

The Vikings will take on Notre Dame-Belmont for the tourney title on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers beat Hillsdale in the semifinals, 49-40.

Palo Alto improved to 9-1 while the Knights dropped to 5-2 on the season. Palo Alto has now won nine in a row and has outscored its opponents by an average of 22.4 points in those wins.

"We play as a team and different people are stepping up," said Paly head coach Scott Peters. "You can try to get out Lauren (Koyama) or Maddy (Atwater) but hopefully Skylar (Burris), Alexis (Harris), Coco (Lovely) and some of the other girls will step up. Each girl has a role on the team."

With 3:40 left in the game, Koyama hit a deep 3-pointer from about 23 feet away, giving her team late momentum and a 47-38 lead.

"I actually like her to shoot from deeper," said Peters. "She can shoot it just as well deep as she can from the 3-point line. That three in the fourth quarter was huge for us."

"We rely heavily on the three," said Atwater, who scored nine and sank two 3-pointers. "Lauren hit it tonight, that was awesome, we needed her."

The three's came early for the Vikings, as Koyama drained a 3-pointer from straight away and gave her team the 12-8 lead to end the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Atwater lined up for a three and hit it from the right side and gave Palo Alto the 29-16 advantage. The Vikings knocked down eight treys overall.

The Knights were cold from the field as they went on an 11-minute scoring drought from the field through the first and second quarter and went only 2 for 12 in the first quarter. Menlo's leading scorer, junior Mackenzie Duffner, was held to nine total points. Sophomore Sam Erisman led the Knights with 17 points.

Junior forward Olivia Pellarin also helped the Knights out and knocked down three shots in a row in the third quarter and Menlo trailed 42-28 heading into the fourth.

Menlo senior Olivia Ferrando cut the lead to 44-38 with a 3-pointer from the corner in the fourth quarter. The Vikings answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Koyama and Palo Alto held its 50-38 lead.

In East Palo Alto, host Eastside Prep rolled to a 63-30 drubbing of St. Francis in the semifinals of the Elite Division of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Brije Byers led the Panthers (9-1) with 20 points while fellow seniors Chaccity Cunningham (19) and Destiny Graham (15) contributed to the victory.

Eastside Prep will face Mitty in the championship game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Mitty defeated Fairfax (Los Angeles), 56-28. Fairfax and St. Francis will play at 6 p.m.

In Watsonville, Sacred Heart Prep faced its weakest foe of the season in Fremont (Oakland) and posted a 55-4 victory in the opening round of the Monte Vista Christian Invitational. SHP juniors Riley Hemm and Ma'ata Makoni each had 13 points for the Gators (8-1), who held a 35-1 halftime lead.

In Newark, Menlo-Atherton dropped a 55-52 decision to host Newark Memorial in the semifianls of the Newark Optimist Club Classic. After dominating in the paint in the first period, the Bears (6-3) went cold and the Cougars roared past to take a 24-21 halftime lead.

M-A moved ahead in the third period as posts Megan Sparrow and Ofa Sili scored nine of their combined 23 points. The lead changed hands numerous times until the Bears missed a 3-pointers at the buzzer. M-A will play for third place against Monte Vista (Danville) on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.

In Salinas, Castilleja proved no match for Clovis West and dropped a 57-14 decision in the semifinals of the Monterey Bay Sweet 16 Tournament at Hartnell College. The Gators (7-3) fell behind by 31-8 at the half.

Boys basketball

Junior guard Mason Randall knocked down six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 24 points to pace Sacred Heart Prep to a 78-46 victory over Bentley in the semifinals of the San Diego Surf N Slam Tournament at Scripps Ranch High.

The Gators (6-1) will play Sumner (Washington) for one of three division championships on Tuesday.

"There are three divisions and we are in the middle one," said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. "I know we could compete in the upper division, but they seeded us by school size and even being in the middle division was a stretch."

Sacred Heart Prep, which is averaging 82 points a game over its past three outings, poured in 50 points in the second half while rolling to its sixth straight win. Senior Corbin Koch and junior Conner Moses each added 12 points. The Gators made 15 three-pointers.

In Mountain View, Pinewood ran into a tall team from San Ramon Valley and dropped a 66-40 decision in the semifinals of the 38th annual St. Francis Holiday Basketball Classic. Senior Bryan Brice had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers (5-2) with Jordan Riches adding nine points and seven boards. Pinewood will play Leigh (5-3) for third place at 6:15 p.m.

In Los Angeles, Menlo School staged a second-half rally, but fell to a strong Mercer Island of Washington team, 59-44, in the fifth-place semifinal of the Chaminade Classic. Senior guard Liam Dunn and junior forward Charlie Roth each scored 10 points for Menlo (5-3), which plays Cleveland-Reseda (4-9) on Tuesday for seventh place. Menlo outscored the Islanders, 24-20, in the second half, playing a great game against a strong Mercer Island team, said first-year coach Keith Larsen.

In Sonoma, Palo Alto (7-2) opened the Windsor Tournament with a 66-48 victory over Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa. Kevin Mullin had 12 points with Oliver Svirsky adding 10 points for Paly, which raced to a 34-17 halftime lead and held a 58-32 advantage heading into the final period.

In Watsonville, Priory junior Scott Harris tossed in 25 points to pace the Panthers to a 59-42 win over International in the opening round of the Don and Martha Price Christmas Classic at Monte Vista Christian. Andy Isokpehi added 15 points for the Panthers (5-1).

In Carmel, Lucas Fioretti scored 16 points and Ryan Cole added 12 as Menlo-Atherton posted a 45-36 nonleague win over host Carmel. Whittaker Jellins added eight points and pulled down seven rebounds as the Bears improved to 4-5.

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