Pinewood girls grab advantage in WBAL basketball rivalry


Pinewood freshman forward Stella Kailahi led all scorers with 24 points to help the Panthers grab an early advantage in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) girls' basketball race with a 58-48 victory over visiting Eastside Prep on Friday night.

Pinewood improved to 2-0 (8-2 overall) while Eastside Prep fell to 1-1 (11-3 overall). The Panthers of Pinewood have won six of their past seven games.

"We need to play against teams like that; that are really athletic and well-coached," said Pinewood head coach Doc Scheppler. "If you don't play hard and compete for every ball, you'll lose. I thought we had a big game from Mo (Marissa Hing) and Stella (Kailahi)."

With just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Kailahi grabbed a rebound (one of 10 she pulled down), got fouled and made the layup for an and-one, then converted the free throw. Pinewood grabbed a 55-45 lead.

"Stella was the key, that was the difference tonight," said Scheppler.

In the first quarter, Pinewood sophomore Erin Poindexter-McHan drained a 3-pointer from long-range with two seconds left in the quarter giving her team a 16-6 lead.

Hing and Kailahi combined for nine points in the second quarter. Eastside Prep seniors Destiny Graham and Brije Byers couldn't convert for any field goals in the first half. Pinewood led 30-19 going into halftime.

Graham and Byers were averaging a combined 33.9 points per game coming into the game, but totaled just 17 against Pinewood.

"We stopped them but we did a poor job on the other girls," said Scheppler. "We didn't realize how good their other players were, the supporting cast. Kayla Tahaafe is a stud."

Tahaafe finished with 17 points on eight-made field goals. Senior Chacitty Cunningham also had a solid game and totaled 14 for the Panthers.

Eastside Prep cut it to a six-point deficit in the third quarter when Tahaafe layed up a shot to make it 40-34 Pinewood. The Panthers then went on a 7-0 run and made it a 47-34 lead after Hing stole the ball and went the length of the court to lay up a shot.

Pinewood sealed it for good when sophomore Akayla Hackson stole the ball with 1:10 left and the Panthers held a comfortable 57-48 lead.

"This win meant a lot," said Hing, who finished with 23 points including five 3-pointers. "Beating them this time is really awesome. We just have to be ready for the next one too because we know they're great competitors and they'll come out hard."

Elsewhere on Friday night:

In Atherton, the Menlo School girls missed 18 free throws and had a hard time shaking visiting Notre Dame-San Jose before holding on for a 46-43 victory to open their WBAL Foothill Division season. The Knights (1-0, 7-2) were led in scoring by Hannah Paye with 12 points. Menlo next plays visiting Fortuna High on Saturday in nonleague play at 2 p.m.

Also in Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep dropped its second straight in the WBAL Foothill Division, 48-43, to visiting Mercy-San Francisco, Junior guard Riley Hemm led the Gators (0-2, 9-4) with 17 points. SHP held a 23-22 halftime lead before being held to just four points in the third quarter.

In Belmont, Menlo-Atherton remained unbeaten in PAL Bay Division play by defeating host Carlmont, 61-32. M-A (2-0, 9-4) led from the opening basket and blew the game open with a 12-0 run in the second quarter. The Bears were paced by sophomore posts Ofa Sili and Megan Sparrow, who scored 17 and 11 points, respectively. The Scots were led by Alexa Bayangos with 16 points. The Bears host Sacred Heart Prep on Saturday in nonleague action at 2:30 p.m.

In Santa Clara, freshman Carly Leong provided some spark off the bench with her three 3-pointers in the first half to help Palo Alto topple host Wilcox, 59-25, in SCVAL De Anza Division action. Leong finished with a game-high 13 points as the Vikings remained atop the division standings at 2-0 (12-2 overall). Defense was the key as the Vikings' fullcourt press bothered Wilcox, resulting in fatigue mistakes by the Chargers (0-2, 2-9) in the third quarter when they were held to just two points. Skyler Burris and Alexis Harris were top performers on defense with their intensity and effort.

In Palo Alto, host Gunn remained winless in the SCVAL De Anza Division race following a 37-32 loss to visiting Mountain View. Olivia Tapia led the Titans (0-2, 3-6) with nine points with teammate Meghan Mahoney pulling down nine rebounds and scoring six points.

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