The last time the Menlo-Atherton girls reached the Central Coast Section Division I basketball playoffs, the Bears fell to North Salinas in the championship game. That was 2010. Five years later, Menlo-Atherton has a chance to avenge that loss.
The No. 2-seeded Bears (24-5) will face top-seeded North Salinas (23-2) in Saturday's section finals at Santa Clara University at 6 p.m. M-A will be seeking its first CCS title since winning the Division II crown in 1993. North Salinas eliminated the Bears in last year's quarterfinals.
The Bears advanced to the finals with a 55-52 overtime win over No. 3 and host Piedmont Hills on Wednesday while North Salinas moved on with a 51-43 triumph over No. 4 Silver Creek.
Freshman Greer Hoyem scored eight straight points (of her team-high 20) to help give the Bears a 25-13 halftime lead. With the Pirates in foul trouble and the Bears hitting threes and scoring in the paint, it looked like an easy victory for the Bears.
However in the second half, the Pirates began chipping away at the lead by hitting more threes. The Bears' Naomi Baer and Ofa Sili converted in the paint and drew fouls, but Piedmont Hills' aggressive play paid off as it took the lead, 44-43, with 15 seconds remaining.
With 2.3 seconds left in regulation, M-A's Megan Sparrow drew a foul and converted a free throw to send the game to overtime. Three starters for Piedmont Hills fouled out in the fourth quarter, but with a minute left in overtime the Pirates still led by two. With 44 seconds remaining, Hoyem scored, drew a foul and hit the free throw to regain the lead at 50-49. Ilana Baer and Carly McLanahan converted two free throws each to put the game away.
Hoyem, a freshman, pulled down 16 rebounds while Naomi Baer finished with 10 points and McLanahan had nine. M-A hurt itself at the free-throw line by making just 14 of 32.
Division V boys
With junior Scott Harris scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half, Priory rallied from a 20-point deficit to pull off a 50-47 upset of top-seeded Pinewood in a CCS Division V semifinal on Wednesday at Santa Clara High.
Fourth-seeded Priory (16-9) trailed by 17-4 after the first quarter and was down 37-25 heading into the final period. Pinewood (17-9) was still on top, 43-39, with 3:25 left in the game when Priory continued its rally to reach the championship game.
Pinewood had won the past four section titles, including last year over Priory, 47-46. The Panthers, however, played again without scoring leader Ryan Brice. Jordan Riches filled in with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Priory will face No. 6 R.L. Stevenson (19-7) in the finals at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont at 8 p.m. RLS advanced with a 48-44 win over No. 7 Eastside Prep (14-13).
By reaching the title game, Priory will earn a berth in next week's CIF NorCal playoffs.