The Sacred Heart Prep and Pinewood boys find themselves tied for first place in the West Bay Athletic League basketball race. That deadlock, however, won't last long.
The co-leaders will meet on Tuesday in Los Altos Hills for the first of two showdowns. The second one, which could decide the league title, will be Feb. 12 in the Gators' gym.
Both teams took care of business on Friday with very close four-point wins. Sacred Heart Prep held off host Menlo, 64-60, and Pinewood did the same to host King's Academy, 74-70.
The Gators (4-0, 5-7) erased a 22-point first-half deficit to continue its comeback from a 1-7 start to the season.
Mason Randall, who was playing football when the basketball team was struggling early on, has helped fuel the comeback. He nailed seven 3-pointers against Menlo and finished with 21 points. He had five treys in the third period as the Gators wiped out a 39-25 halftime deficit.
Menlo (2-2, 4-10) jumped out to a 26-11 lead after the first quarter. A 16-0 run pushed the Knights' lead to 33-11. SHP then brought in Tevin Panchal, who scored 10 of his 16 points to rally the Gators.
Randall then scored 15 of the Gators' 28 points in the third period. He put his team ahead for good with a 3-pointer with time running out.
Menlo, however, refused to fold. Thomas Brown's basket pulled Menlo to within 58-57 with 4:15 left, and again when senior Jared Lucian drained a three from the baseline to trail 61-60. Lucian had 14 of his 18 points in the second half with sophomore teammate JH Tevis scoring off of his 14 points in the first half.
"We share the ball and when do all the little things well, we're pretty good," Menlo coach Keith Larsen said. "I'm really happy we can play with a team like that. With the limited number of guys we have -- we have guys injured and banged up -- I couldn't be more proud."
In Sunnyvale, Pinewood (4-0, 7-5) rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit by scoring 44 points in the second half to overcome King's Academy.
Senior Nathan Beak had a career-high 27 points for the Panthers, including 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Pinewood also got 14 points from Connor Riches on four threes and 13 points from Matt Peery. Ryan Knotts had 11 points for Pinewood.
In Portola Valley, host Priory (2-2, 6-3) got 15 points from Scott Harris in a 56-43 win over Crystal Springs.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn moved back into a first-place tie following a big 57-52 victory over host Los Gatos. The Titans (3-1, 10-1) jumped out to an 18-7 lead in the first quarter and was up 29-22 at halftime.
Los Gatos (1-2, 10-5) dominated the third quarter and drew even 37-37 before taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Gunn then rallied behind senior Alex Gil-Fernandez, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Davis and Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich added 16 points each.
Gunn had some help in moving back atop the standings as erstwhile co-leader Palo Alto (3-1, 11-4) dropped a 69-62 decision to visiting Los Altos. The Vikings were missing starters Justin Hull and Miles Tention, both sidelined by illness.
The Vikings fell behind by 23-10 after one period, but made a game of it with a 20-point fourth quarter. Jack Simison led the way with 18 points and Paul Jackson III added 13. Paly, however, gave up 13 treys by the Eagles.
In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton held on to first place following a foul-filled 63-47 victory over host Carlmont.
The Bears (4-0, 12-2) led after the first quarter, 18-11, as Eric Norton and Blake Henry each scored six points. M-A extended the lead to 33-19 at the half. The two teams combined for 29 first-half fouls.
In the second half, fewer fouls were called and M-A went on a run to extend the lead to 18 after three periods. But, the Scots closed the gap to 12 points, as Glenn Smyth heated up and scored 15 second-half points. M-A held off the run and ended up winning while hitting 21 free throws for the game.
For the Bears, Henry had 21 points and 11 boards. Norton added 17 points, 10 of which came on free throws. Lucas Fioretti and Bradley Stillman each had six points. Raymond Fowler had five points and five rebounds.