The Palo Alto girls are off to one of their best basketball starts ever. Now, the Vikings need to keep the momentum going into the new year following a championship performance at the Steve Geramoni Invitational in Belmont.
The Vikings won their 10th straight following a season-opening loss with a 58-43 triumph over host Notre Dame-Belmont in the title game Tuesday night.
Palo Alto sophomore Lauren Koyama was named the Most Valuable Player after helping the Vikings to three straight wins. She was held to eight points Tuesday after scoring 18 on Monday.
Paly junior Maddy Atwater scored 10 points and was named to the all-tournament team. Sophomore Skylar Burris led the Vikings in the finale with 20 points, 12 coming on 3-pointers.
"Skylar did this, even though she took a couple of stitches in her elbow from the previous night's physical match," explained Paly coach Scott Peters.
Burris made a trio of threes in the first half as Paly grabbed a 32-20 lead, thanks to a 3-pointer from Alexis Harris with four seconds to play.
The matchup was a contrast in styles as Palo Alto wanted to run and play at a fast pace while the Notre Dame wanted to slow it down and play more of a halfcourt game. Compounding the situation, both teams were shorthanded. The Tigers had seven players while the Vikings had eight, including a JV player called up just for the tourney.
Palo Alto's Julie Chandler was solid on defense while Koyama and Atwater alternated at the point and shooting guard positions while directing the offense. The 6-foot-2 Harris had two big blocks in the second half.
In the third-place game, Menlo School posted a 46-38 victory over Hillsdale. Menlo (6-2) was led in scoring by Sam Erisman, who had 15 points. The Knights overcame 16 missed free throws to post the win.
In Watsonville, Sacred Heart Prep got 18 points from Riley Hemm and reached the championship game of the Monte Vista Christian Invitational with a 54-44 win over the host team. the Gators (9-1) held MV Christian to 14 second-half points. SHP will face King's Academy in the title game Wednesday at noon.
In Salinas, Castilleja's record-setting senior guard Paige Vermeer scored her 1,000th career point en route to a career-high 29, but the Gators fell to Soquel by 68-57 in the third-place game of the Monterey Bay Sweet 16 Tournament at Hartnell College.
The Gators (7-4) jumped out to an early six-point lead before Soquel went on an 11-2 run for a 25-23 halftime advantage. The Vikings then poured in 45 second-half points and won going away as the Gators, who dressed only eight players for the tourney, showed the effects of four games in five days.
Vermeer, the fifth player in school history to score at least 1,000 points, pulled down her 500th career rebound in the tournament and had nine boards against Soquel. Ellie Chen made a trio of 3-pointers and totaled 14 points. Cate Alder had eight points and six assists, and Maddie Tarr scored six with eight rebounds.
In Newark, Menlo-Atherton fell to Monte Vista (Danville), 53-44, in the third-place game of the Newark Optimist Club Classic at Newark Memorial High. M-A (6-4) took a 14-7 lead in the first period, but the Mustangs took over in the second and third periods on strong shooting from senior guard Amanda Daily, the top 3-point shooter in the state. Daily had six 3-pointers and 28 points on the night.
In the fourth, the Bears mounted a comeback and closed the gap to eight, but the Mustangs made their free throws and put the game away. The Bears were led by sophomore post Ofa Sili with 11 points.
The Bears return to action on Saturday against visiting Palo Alto at 2:30 p.m.
With senior Corbin Koch tossing in 18 points, Sacred Heart Prep defeated Sumner (Wash), 68-56, and captured one of three division championships at the annual San Diego Surf N Slam Tournament on Tuesday at Scripps Ranch High.
Koch was named the Most Valuable Player for the Gators' division with junior teammate Mason Randall being named to the all-tournament team after he scored 12 points in the title game.
The teams were tied at 15 following one quarter before SHP pulled away in the third period, taking a 54-45 lead into the final period. Junior Conner Moses added 13 points for the Gators (7-1), who will host Serra on Saturday at 7 p.m.
In Sonoma, Palo Alto advanced to the championship game of the Windsor Tournament with a 66-57 victory over Dublin on Tuesday. The Vikings (8-2) will face Northgate in the title game on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Kevin Mullin led Paly with 17 points with Oliver Svirsky and Johnny Rojahn combining for 25.
In Mountain View, Pinewood finished third in the 38th annual St. Francis Holiday Classic with a 61-45 victory over Leigh. Jordan Riches scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team. The Panthers (6-2) pulled down 44 rebounds and shot 50 percent from 2-point range (11 of 22). Nathan Beak added 19 points for Pinewood.
"The win vs. Leigh was a good way to close out our preseason," said Pinewood coach Mani Messy. "When the team showed up wearing shirts and tied to the game, I knew that they meant business."
In Los Angeles, Menlo School wrapped up play in the 20th annual Chaminade Classic by defeating Cleveland (Reseda), 64-52, to take seventh place in the 16-team tournament. The Knights (6-3) overcame a five-point halftime deficit to beat the Cavaliers (4-10).
Menlo junior Tench Coxe paced the Knights with 13 points, shooting 4 of 5 from 3-point range, while senior guard Will Richardson and Ben Simon each contributed 10 more for the Knights.
The Knights moved along in the bracket with an opening-round win over Kennedy-Granada Hills. They fell to Valencia then Mercer Island before a comeback against Cleveland.
In Pacific Grove, Menlo-Atherton rallied from a 15-8 deficit after the first quarter to beat the host Breakers, 53-39. The Bears (5-5) began using a three-quarters court press from the second quarter on and Pacific Grove's point production dropped dramatically -- winding up with just 15 second-half points.
Tim Andersen returned to the M-A lineup after nursing a left-wrist injury for a month and led the way with 15 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. M-A had its best free-throw shooting effort of the season by hitting 18 of 23 for 78 percent. Ten Bears scored in the well-balanced effort.