Menlo-Atherton did exactly what it was expected to do on Thursday night as the Bears romped to a 61-32 victory over visiting Woodside and clinched the PAL South Division regular-season basketball title.
It is the Bears' first championship since 2009 and their first outright title in the North/South-only era since 2001.
Prior to the game, the Bears honored their five seniors and the night was their show. The seniors opened a 14-6 first-quarter lead with Naomi Baer scoring six of her seven points on the night, Maddy Kim driving and scoring and Caroline Watson defending and rebounding.
Senior Erin Goode hit the first of her three 3-pointers. Sarah Howell hit her first 3-pointer and led all Bears with 10 points. M-A lead the entire game. The Wildcats were lead by junior Zaire Williams, who scored 16.
The Bears will be back in action on Wednesday, hosting the No. 4 seed from the PAL North in the PAL Tournament at 7 p.m.
The Priory at Mercy-Burlingame WBAL Skyline Division game was not reported.
With senior Anna Verwillow providing the lone goal on a penalty kick, Castilleja wrapped up the West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division) title in girls' soccer with a 1-0 win over second-place Crystal Springs on Thursday at Cubberley Community Center.
The Gators improved to 8-0-2 in league on the final day of the regular season and 11-3-3 overall. Castilleja now needs to defeat the fourth-place team from the WBAL Foothill Division -- Harker -- in a play-in match next Thursday at Cubberley at 3:30 p.m.
The winner of that match will earn the Foothill Division's fourth automatic seed into the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs.
Crystal Springs (7-2-1, 12-7-1), which tied Castilleja in the teams' previous match, needed a victory to win the title while all Castilleja needed was a tie.
The Gators wrapped things up after a penalty was called in the 36th minute when Sarah Abramowitz was knocked to the ground inside the penalty box. Verwillow took the PK and converted.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto had a double celebration on Senior Day as the Vikings rolled to an 8-0 victory over Homestead and received great news that first-place Mountain View had been tied by Los Altos, 2-2.
Thus, the second-place Vikings (9-2, 15-2) moved to within a single point of the Spartans (9-1-1 league) with one match remaining for each team. Paly visits Los Gatos on Tuesday with a victory, coupled with a Mountain View tie or loss, giving the Vikings the title.
Paly started all six of its seniors -- Sarah Lim, Olivia Musil, Priscilla Bell, Lena Chang, Aoi Sugihara and Katie Foug. In the 10th minute, junior Jacey Pederson opened the scoring after working a short corner with Sugihara and dribbling into the box.
Four minutes after that, Heidi Moeser ran onto a ball at midfield and then outran the defense before beating the keeper. Chang, rotated into midfield from defense, then scored on a parried save of her own shot.
Homestead pressed hard at the start of the second half, which gave Pederson space to run with the ball. In the 47th minute, she accelerated past her marker to create space at the top of the box, she let loose a low rocket into far side netting.
Three minutes later, Paly struck again as Lauola Amanoni stepped up to steal a Homestead pass and then dribbled through the middle of the Homestead team. She saw Foug making a run and sent in a pass that Foug finished. In the 69th minute, junior Nika Woodfill worked herself free for a cross that Moeser redirected inside the post. In the 77th minute, Woodfill found Lu in front of goal and Lu put the ball past the diving keeper.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, Sacred Heart Prep wrapped up its first unbeaten league season following an 8-1 romp over host Notre Dame-San Jose at Watson Park on Thursday. The Gators moved to 10-0 in league (16-2-1 overall) and are in line for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming CCS Division III playoffs.
SHP tallied seven goals in the first half with sophomore Lindsay Johnson scoring twice in the first seven minutes off assists from junior Tierna Davidson.
The Gators tallied five more times with freshman Mia Shenk and sophomore Olivia Athens each tallying twice with Davidson getting a goal, as well. Shenk got her hat trick in the 60th minute. Seniors Nicola Wheeler and Brigid White provided assists.
In Portola Valley, senior Leah Swig scored four goals to lead Menlo School to a 6-1 WBAL Foothill Division win over host Priory. The Knights finished the regular season in second place at 7-2-1 (10-4-4 overall) and now will await the CCS seeding meeting next weekend after clinching an automatic berth.
Emily Demmon added a goal and two assists and Cleo King added another goal for Menlo. Alexandra Walker, Julia Wang and Lizzie Lacy contributed assists.
Menlo scored the first two goals of the game with Swig and Demmon converting, then made it a 3-1 halftime lead after another Swig goal. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Swig scored twice then came out of the game. King netted the the final goal. Priory (0-10) concluded its first winless season.
In the PAL Bay Division, it was a frustrating afternoon for Menlo-Atherton as the Bears suffered a 1-0 loss to host Carlmont. M-A dropped to 6-4-2 in league and 9-5-3 overall, while Carlmont improved in 8-2-2 in league and remained in second place behind unbeaten Woodside.
M-A has two matches remaining, hosting Hillsdale on Tuesday (Senior Day) before facing the first-place Wildcats on Thursday.
The Bears fought hard and actually out-shot the Scots for the match (10-7), but it was Carlmont that made the most of its opportunities. After a shot in the 30th minute was saved just wide by Bears' senior keeper Jacqueline Foody, a corner kick provided the Scots with a chance to capitalize. The serve in was initially punched out by Foody, but Carlmont capitalized and headed in the deflection to score the only goal of the afternoon and put the Scots up 1-0.
The second half was a battle as M-A upped the intensity and both sides played very physically. The Bears had chances, including a fastbreak by sophomore Katie Guenin in the waning minute of the match that came up empty.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, host Gunn (7-4, 10-6-1) defeated Fremont, 2-1.