The Palo Alto girls are closing in on setting a school mark for single-season basketball victories. The question is, can the Vikings accomplish that in the Central Coast Section and NorCal playoffs?
Palo Alto opens the postseason this week with a glitzy 22-2 record, four victories shy of the school mark of 26-4 set in 2006. That was the first season for current head coach Scott Peters.
Picking up wins in CCS play will be tough, however, because for the first time in program history, Paly will be competing against the section's elite in the Open Division. The Vikings, currently riding a 12-game win streak, are guaranteed of at least two games and, depending on their performance, can drop to Division I for the CIF NorCal playoffs and make a run at the school record.
Palo Alto is the No. 8 seed and will open against No. 1 St. Ignatius (20-4) at Oak Grove High on Friday at 7:30 p.m. SI is only one of two teams to beat defending CIF Division V state champ Pinewood this season.
Pinewood (22-2) is the No. 2 seed and riding a 16-game win streak while Eastside Prep (20-4) is the No. 6 seed. First-round wins by those teams will set up a showdown between the West Bay Athletic League rivals on March 3.
If Paly can't pull an upset, it will face the loser of No. 5 Sacred Heart Cathedral and No. 4 Scotts Valley in the consolation round.
Palo Alto has a solid defense to contend, but the Vikings' offense will be questionable against teams like St. Ignatius.
Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler, meanwhile, would probably like another shot at SI after losing to the Wildcats in the semifinals of the La Jolla Country Day Tournament on Dec. 5. The Panthers' only other loss was to Miramonte on Jan. 3.
The Open Division finals will be March 6 at Santa Clara University at 6 p.m.
With Palo Alto out of Division I, that perhaps clears a path for Menlo-Atherton to make a strong run. The Bears (22-5), coming off their first PAL Tournament title since 2008 on Saturday, are the No. 2 seed and won't play until this weekend.
Despite having losing records in the WBAL Foothill Division, both Sacred Heart Prep (12-12) and Castilleja (11-13) made the Division IV playoffs and will open with home games on Thursday at 7 p.m. Should Castilleja advance, it will face WBAL rival Menlo School on Saturday on the Knights' floor. Second-seeded Menlo topped Castilleja twice during the regular season.
The Division IV bracket includes three WBAL Foothill teams and three from the Skyline Division. Notre Dame-Belmont, rumored to be headed to the WBAL, is the top seed.
The only local team not to make the CCS playoffs is Gunn, which went 4-8 in the SCVAL De Anza Division and 7-12 overall.
2015 GIRLS CCS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
No. 8 Palo Alto (22-2) vs. No. 1 St. Ignatius (20-4) at Oak Grove, 7:30 p.m.
No. 7 Valley Christian (13-11) vs. No. 2 Pinewood (22-2) at Christopher, 7:30 p.m.
No. 5 Sacred Heart Cathedral (14-10) vs. No. 4 Scotts Valley (23-3) at Oak Grove, 5:30 p.m.
No. 6 Eastside Prep (20-4) vs. No. 3 Mitty (19-5) at Christopher, 5:30 p.m.
Salinas (11-13) at No. 11 Andrew Hill (13-11), 7 p.m.
Alisal (14-10) at No. 10 Monta Vista (11-12), 7 p.m.
No. 12 Santa Teresa (11-13) at Oak Grove (16-8), 7 p.m.
Alvarez (15-9) at No. 9 Evergreen Valley (7-17), 7 p.m.
Salinas or Andrew Hill at No. 6 Cupertino (21-3), 7 p.m.
Alisal or Monta Vista at No. 7 Carlmont (12-13), 7 p.m.
Oak Grove or Santa Teresa at No. 5 San Benito (18-6), 7 p.m.
Alvarez or Evergreen Valley at No. 8 Homestead (11-11), 7 p.m.
Byes into quarterfinals: No. 1 North Salinas (21-2), No. 2 Menlo-Atherton (22-5), No. 3 Piedmont Hills (21-3), No. 4 Silver Creek (14-10)
Christopher (8-15) at No. 11 Leigh (16-8), 7 p.m.
Pajaro Valley (11-13) at No. 10 Santa Clara (15-9), 7 p.m.
Overfelt (8-10) at No. 12 Lynbrook (13-11), 5:30 p.m.
Christopher or Leigh at No. 6 Pioneer (15-7), 7 p.m.
Pajaro Valley or Santa Clara at No. 7 Aragon (15-9), 7 p.m.
Overfelt or Lynbrook at No. 5 Los Gatos (18-6), 5:30 p.m.
No. 9 Leland (13-11) at No. 8 El Camino (9-12), 7 p.m.
Byes into quarterfinals: No. 1 Presentation (10-13), No. 2 Westmoor (20-7), No. 3 St. Francis (10-14), No. 4 Mountain View (19-5)
James Lick (9-9) at No. 11 Live Oak (13-11), 7 p.m.
North Monterey (15-9) at No. 12 Del Mar (14-10), 7 p.m.
James Lick or Live Oak at No. 6 Branham (17-7), 7 p.m.
No. 10 Sobrato (15-8) at No. 7 Capuchino (12-11), 7 p.m.
North Monterey or Del Mar at No. 5 Gunderson (16-8), 5:30 p.m.
No. 9 Burlingame (9-15) at No. 8 Terra Nova (12-13), 7 p.m.
Byes into quarterfinals: No. 1 Hillsdale (18-8), No. 2 Notre Dame-San Jose (12-12), No. 3 Saratoga (15-9), No. 4 Mills (14-11)
Greenfield (12-12) at No. 11 Seaside (9-12), 7 p.m.
Harker (12-11) at No. 10 Carmel (18-3), 7 p.m.
Oceana (14-9) at No. 12 Pacific Grove (18-6), 7 p.m.
Santa Catalina (15-6) vs. No. 9 Mercy-Burlingame (17-6), TBA
Greenfield or Seaside at No. 6 Sacred Heart Prep (12-12), 7 p.m.
Harker or Carmel at No. 7 Castilleja (11-13), 7 p.m.
Oceana or Pacific Grove at No. 5 Half Moon Bay (19-7), 7 p.m.
Santa Catalina or Mercy-Burlingame at No. 8 Monte Vista Christian (18-6), 5:30 p.m.
Byes into quarterfinals: No. 1 Notre Dame-Belmont (11-13), No. 2 Menlo (16-8), No. 3 Soquel (17-7), No. 4 King's Academy (21-3)
No. 10 St. Lawrence (8-10) vs. No. 7 Pacific Collegiate (10-12), TBA
No. 9 GB Kirby (13-5) vs. No. 8 Summit Prep (7-7) at Woodside old gym, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday (games at Del Mar)
No. 6 KIPP-SJ (8-7) at No. 3 Stevenson (10-12), TBA
St. Lawrence or Pacific Collegiate vs. No. 2 Notre Dame-Salinas (17-7), TBA
No. 5 Oakwood (13-6) vs. No. 4 Alma Heights (15-7), TBA
Kirby of Summit Prep vs. No. 1 St. Francis CCC (16-9), TBA