After fashioning an undefeated record in the preseason and returning many of the key players from last season's SCVAL El Camino Division championship team, it appeared the Gunn boys had a good shot at ending five years of frustrating defeats to rival Palo Alto.
That string of losses, however, now stands at 10 following Paly's 74-56 SCVAL De Anza Division triumph on Friday night. While the game was played in Gunn's gym, the currently homeless Vikings played like the home team in the second half as they outscored the Titans by 41-25.
Paly pulled away from a 33-31 halftime lead with a 26-point outburst in the third period to take a 59-47 lead into the final period. Junior Miles Tention scored 14 of his game-high 25 points in the decisive quarter as the Vikings improved to 2-0 in league (10-3 overall) and handed Gunn (1-1, 8-1) its first loss of the season.
The Titans have not beaten the Vikings since the teams' second meeting in 2009. That also marked Gunn's last title in the De Anza Division. Max Dorward added 15 points for Paly and fellow junior Jack Simison finished with 10. Gunn was led by senior Alex Gil-Fernandez, who had 22 points. Junior Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich added 13.
In the PAL South Division, host Menlo-Atherton led wire to wire to defeat visiting Sequoia, 75-39, and remained tied for the division lead. The Bears (2-0, 10-2) used a swarming defense, 12 first-half steals and a fast-paced offense to race to a 43-21 advantage. Lucas Fioretti had 19 first-half points and finished with 23 plus eight steals to lead M-A.
The Bears extended the lead to 61-32 at the end of three quarters and maintained their lead to the end. Blake Henry and Eric Norton each chipped in nine points and Raymond Fowler had seven. Christian Fioretti contributed fjve points and seven assists.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Sacred Heart Prep remained tied for first place after two wins this week the latest a 72-46 thumping of visiting Harker. Kyle Stalder and Mason Randall, less than a month removed from football season, led the Gators (2-0, 3-7) with 16 points each. Junior Tevin Panchal and sophomore Eric DeBrine contributed 10 points each while helping SHP pull away with a 23-9 advantage in the second period.
In East Palo Alto, Priory evened its record following a 66-59 victory over Eastside Prep. Scott Harris poured in 33 points to pace Priory (1-1, 5-2) while Eastside Prep dropped to 0-2 in league (6-3 overall).
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood remained unbeaten under new head coach Jason Peery following a 69-30 romp over Crystal Springs. Peery, who took over just prior to the start of the WBAL season, is 2-0 in league (5-5 overall) thanks to 18 points from Roshan Bal and 17 from fellow senior Nathan Beak. The Panthers outscored the Gryphons, 41-14, in the second half.
In Sunnyvale, Menlo School jumped out to an early lead against host King's Academy, but dropped a 53-35 decision in WBAL action. The Knights (1-1 league, 3-9 overall) pulled out ahead with a 17-8 first-quarter lead but TKA's 12-3 run in the second quarter tied the game at the half. Menlo senior Jared Lucian scored a team-high 14 points while Charlie Roth added seven points.
Palo Alto was rated the prohibitive favorite to defend its title in the SCVAL De Anza Division this season. The Vikings, however, opened the campaign with a loss at Los Gatos earlier in the week. Rather than go deeper into a hole, Paly bounced back in a big way to topple rival Gunn, 49-34, on Friday.
Paly fell behind by 19-13 after one period, but then outscored the Titans by 27-0 over the next two periods to take control.
"The switch to a trapping zone in the second quarter frustrated Gunn and allowed us to hold them scoreless," explained Paly coach Scott Peters, who team forced numerous turnovers and prevented any shots. "Maya Lahti and Coco Lovely played very hard, and their presence was felt on both sides of the court."
Lovely tallied 13 points to pace the Vikings (1-1, 8-4) while Archer Olson had 16 for the Titans (0-2, 8-4).
In the PAL South Division, host Menlo-Atherton romped to a 83-53 victory over Sequoia. The Bears (2-0, 12-2) got off to fast start and finished the first quarter up 27-14. For the second game in a row, all five M-A starters scored in the first period -- led by 12 points from sophomore Greer Hoyem and six from junior Megan Sparrow. The Cherokees, who had success all night with the long ball, also saw balanced scoring from five players in the first period.
By halftime, however, the Bears had extended their lead to 50-24 with senior Delilah Kline coming off the bench to add 10 points and junior Ofa Sili adding six down low. The shootout continued in the second half with Kline finishing with 17 points, Sili with 16 and Sparrow with 14 to lead the Bears.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, host Menlo School jumped out to an early lead against defending NorCal Division V champ Eastside Prep and held on for a 54-48 triumph in a league opener for both teams. The Knights (1-0, 10-3) were led by senior Olivia Pellarin's 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Sam Erisman and Hannah Paye contributed 21 and 11 points, respectively.
Menlo was led in scoring and rebounding by senior Olivia Pellarin who registered a double double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Olivia also registered 5 blocks as she dominated the paint. Sam Erisman and Hannah Paye also contributed 12 and 11 points respectively. Freshman Zion Gabriel led the Panthers (0-1, 7-5) with sophomore Kayla Tahaafe adding 18. The Panthers, however, were just 9 of 21 from the free-throw line.
In Los Altos Hills, freshman Hannah Jump had 20 points and eight rebounds to pace host Pinewood to an 85-12 rout of Notre Dame-San Jose. The Panthers (1-0, 9-2) grabbed a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and led by 52-4 at halftime. Erin Poindexter-McHan added 12 points, all on 3-pointers, and fellow junior Michaela Topper finished with 10. Pinewood made 16 treys and freshman Klara Anstrom had five steals to go with seven points.
In San Francisco, Priory got 21 points and 20 rebounds from 6-foot-3 freshman Ela Lane, but the Panthers dropped a 54-43 decision to host Mercy-San Francisco in WBAL Skyline Division action. Sophomore Tatiana Reese added 10 points and 18 rebounds for Priory (0-1, 5-5) with Gabby Ruiz pulling down 13 rebounds and scoring eight points.
In nonleague action, Sacred Heart Prep improved to 11-1 with a 53-41 victory over visiting El Camino on Friday night. Senior Riley Hemm led the Gators with 17 points with Ma'ata Makoni adding 16 and Zoe Zaharias 11.