Palo Alto juniors Coco Lovely, Alexis Harris and sophomore Lauren Koyama combined for 34 points to lead the Vikings to a 57-44 SCVAL De Anza Division basketball victory over visiting Saratoga Wednesday night.
The Vikings improved to 3-0 (13-2 overall) while the Falcons dropped to 1-1 (11-3 overall). Palo Alto remains tied for first place with Mountain View following its 13 victory in the past 14 games.
"Our passing has been the key," said Palo Alto head coach Scott Peters. "Our girls are willing to pass to every player and trusting all our players to perform. We want everyone contributing because it makes it harder to scout us; it shows confidence in our players."
Early in the fourth quarter, junior guard Maddy Atwater found sophomore Lauren Koyama and the guard drained a 3-pointer to give the Vikings the 48-38 lead. Koyama finished with four three's and now averages 2.6 per game.
Palo Alto got off to a fast start in the first quarter with a 10-0 run to begin the game with points from Lovely and Harris. Koyama ended the quarter with a 3-pointer from the corner to give her team the 13-7 lead.
In the second quarter, freshman guard Carly Leong got fouled and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. She converted the free throw for the four-point play and brought her team to a 26-15 lead.
With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Atwater attempted a 3-pointer and missed but Harris came down with the offensive board, made the putback and got fouled. She converted the three-point play for a 36-31 lead.
"We weren't getting a lot of rebounds in the first half," said Lovely, who's averaging 6.9 points per contest. "He (Peters) told us to go to the boards harder and pick up on our defense, after that we turned it around."
Koyama sank her fourth 3-pointer of the game from deep and gave her team a comfortable 53-40 lead late in the fourth quarter. Atwater made two free throws and put a stamp on it, making it a 55-42 lead for the Vikings with 1:47 left.
Palo Alto will take on host Los Altos (1-1, 4-8 overall) on Friday at 7:45 p.m.
"It's on the road," said Peters. "Every game on the road you can't overlook any team. We have to go in there and take the victory. Every game for us, that's what we have to focus on."
Paly has a bye next Wednesday before hosting Mountain View in a showdown for first place on Jan. 23.
In other De Anza Division games Wednesday, Gunn knocked off Los Gatos, 39-37, and Mountain View (3-0) crunched Wilcox, 42-16.
Gunn (1-2, 4-6) got 12 points and three rebounds from Georgia Hake with Olivia Tapia adding eight points and four rebounds.
In the PAL South Division, starting center Ofa Sili was sidelined by a knee injury and Menlo-Atherton came up short and dropped a 54-53 decision to visiting Capuchino on Wednesday. The loss knocked the Bears out of first place.
Starting guard Naomi Baer sat out the first half, still feeling the effects of illness, but played the second half and tallied three points.
The Bears (2-1, 10-5) jumped out to an 11-4 lead midway through the first quarter with freshman Post Greer Hoyem scoring eight of her team-high 17 points. However, the Mustangs roared back to take an 18-point lead at the end of the third quarter. Capuchino senior Brianna Deckman led the charge with 18 points, 12 in the first half.
In the fourth, the Bears closed the gap to one point with 35 seconds remaining, but the Mustangs protected the ball and held on for the win. The Bears, who return to action on Friday at Sequoia High at 6:15 p.m., hurt their chances by missing 12 free throws.
Menlo-Atherton moved back into contention in the PAL South Division race with a 40-31 win over host Capuchino. The Bears (2-1, 8-7) clamped down on defense in the second half to rally from a 20-17 halftime deficit.
In the second half, M-A held Capuchino to just 11 points. The Bears were 7 of 8 from the free-throw line with Christian Fioretti scoring eight of his 11 points on drives to the basket. Ryan Cole and Blake Henry each had six rebounds.
Sacred Heart Prep registered their third straight shutout, 3-0 over visiting Priory, to remain unbeaten in the West Bay Athletic League race on Wednesday.
The Gators (3-0, 7-1-2) got the eventual winning goal from Matthew MacFarquhar (unassisted) in the first half. Following intermission, Josh Lin scored off an assist from Riley Tinsley and Derek Chou finished things off with a penalty kick, set up by Tinsley and Eduardo Carillo.
Just down the road, Menlo School remained in the thick of the WBAL race with a 4-1 win over visiting Eastside Prep.
The Knights (2-1, 4-4-1) went ahead in the 10th minute after a great solo effort by junior striker Will Chisholm. He scored his second goal a few minutes later after some good buildup play between senior captain Jackson Wagner and freshman winger Dylan Williams.
Eastside (0-2, 5-3-1) pulled one back early in the second half with a well-struck shot from outside the box. The game was tight until the final minutes, when Chisholm added another two goals off assists from junior forward Tyler McGraw and senior captain Peter Rosston.
Junior defenders Kian Seddighnezhad, Michael Quezada, Will Bleicher and Matt Joss had strong games for the Knights in helping keep the Panthers' offense at bay.
Menlo next takes the field Friday at home against Priory at 3:30 p.m.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained tied for second following a 4-0 romp over visiting El Camino. Alex Gallo provided the eventual game-winning goal in the first half before the Bears tallied three times after intermission. Felix Hernandez made it 2-0 off an assist from Alex Barrera.