The Menlo-Atherton girls started the new year in a big way with one of their most significant basketball victories of the preseason.
Despite having lost three of their past four games, the Bears pulled off a preseason highlight by defeating visiting Palo Alto, 43-36, in nonleague action Saturday.
Paly came into the game with a 10-1 record and fresh off a title at the Steve Geramoni Invitational earlier in the week. The Bears, meanwhile, were just 6-4 after finishing fourth in the Newark Optimist Club Invitational.
However, those records were left in 2014 when the Bears' Naomi Baer scored the first two of her eight points to give the Bears the initial lead. By the half, M-A led by five points with sophomore posts Megan Sparrow (11 points) and Ofa Sili both scoring in the paint and from the 3-point arc. Sili finished with 12 rebounds.
In the second half, the Vikings attempted to come back by shooting 3-pointers and stepping up their press. However, the Bears had answers for both, limiting the Vikings to a single 3-point hoop and drawing fouls from the Palo Alto press.
M-A switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone in the second quarter and stayed with it the remainder of the game, concentrating on limiting Paly's 3-point shooting. Paly sophomore 3-point ace Lauren Koyama was held without a trey and finished with just four points.
With the Bears in double bonus early in the fourth quarter, they scored 12 points from the foul line in the second half to put the game away and end Paly's 10-game win streak. Alexis Harris led the Vikings with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Menlo-Atherton (7-4) next will visit Mills for a PAL South Division opener on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., with Palo Alto (10-2) hosting Gunn (3-4) in a SCVAL De Anza Division opener on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Pinewood let an early lead slip away and suffered a 73-60 nonleague loss to host Miramonte. The Panthers (6-2) held a 20-15 lead after one quarter and led by 35-34 at halftime. Miramonte, however, outscored Pinewood in the fourth quarter by 27-10.
Sophomore Akayla Hackson led Pinewood with 16 points with senior Gabi Bade making her season debut with 14 points and freshman Stella Kailahi also tallying 14. Sophomore Erin Poindexter-McHan contributed 10 but senior Marissa Hing was held to a season-low two points. She did have seven rebounds and four assists.
Junior Chloe Eackles also was held to just two points, while contributing eight rebounds and five assists. The Panthers were 13 of 26 from the field for 2-point goals but just 8 of 29 from 3-point range.
Pinewood will open its West Bay Athletic League season on Tuesday against visiting Notre Dame-San Jose at 6:30 p.m. In another Foothill Division openers, Sacred Heart Prep (9-2) is at Eastside Prep (10-2), also at 6:30 p.m.
After winning its division at the San Diego Surf N Slam earlier in the week, Sacred Heart Prep returned home and suffered a tough 77-65 nonleague loss to visiting Serra on Saturday night.
SHP senior Corbin Koch, who was named the Most Valuable Player in his division at the tournament, continued his scoring rampage by tallying a game-high 27 points against the Padres.
SHP held a 12-10 first-quarter lead and improved that to 33-25 at intermission. Serra, however, outgunned the Gators in the third period, 28-15, to take a 53-48 lead into the final period.
Koch was the only SHP player in double figures as junior Mason Randall was limited to eight points and Conner Moses to nine.
The Gators (7-2) will open their WBAL season by visiting Priory (7-1) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Priory won the Don and Marsha Price Christmas Classic at Monte Vista Christian last week in Watsonville. Scott Harris scored 31 points and Andy Isokpehi added 29 in a 59-42 win over Monte Vista in the title game.
In other WBAL openers Tuesday, Menlo School (6-3) plays host to Harker at 6:30 p.m., and Pinewood (6-2) is at Eastside Prep at 5 p.m.
Elsewhere Saturday, Menlo-Atherton couldn't make it two in a row and dropped a 40-26 nonleague game to visiting Half Moon Bay in a rematch of the Burlingame Lions Club Club semifinals (also won by HMB).
The Bears (6-6) got to within five points on two occasions in the second half, only to have the Cougars (11-0) pull away. As some consolation for M-A, it has held Half Moon Bay to its two lowest scoring efforts of the season.
Tim Anderson had seven points and six rebounds for M-A with Ryan Cole adding seven rebounds for the Bears, who had beaten host Jefferson a day earlier, 63-38, as Whittaker Jellins and Cole each scored 12 points and all 11 M-A players scored.
Next up for M-A will be a PAL South Division home game against Mills on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Palo Alto (9-2) will open its SCVAL De Anza Division season on Tuesday against visiting Fremont (7 p.m.) after sweeping three games and winning the Windsor Tournament title last week. Senior Kevin Mullin scored 60 points in the three wins, topped by a 31-point effort in a 60-58 overtime win over Northgate in the title game.