The Pinewood girls are cruising toward another West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) basketball title, but the postseason may provide a bumpy ride now that sophomore guard Brianna Claros is sidelined for the season.
Claros suffered a torn ACL in her right knee on Saturday during a 73-71 overtime loss to Brookside Christian in the Corner Bakery Classic at Bentley School in the Oakland Hills.
The starting point guard will have surgery in the coming weeks, which takes her away from a team that head coach Doc Scheppler said may be his best ever.
Even without the 5-foot-3 Claros, Pinewood remains a very good team. The Panthers demonstrated that with a 60-35 romp over host Menlo School on Tuesday night in a battle beweeen the remaining unbeaten teams in the WBAL Foothill Division.
"The plan is always the same for any Pinewood team and that is to get better," said Scheppler, regarding the loss of Claros. "The team still has the capability to play at a high level and that's our focus. We have a team of great players!"
Pinewood improved to 5-0 in league (14-3 overall) while Menlo dropped to 4-1 and 14-4. Eastside Prep is third at 3-2 and 11-8 in what is now just a three-team race.
Pinewood raced to a 20-6 first-quarter led, and held a 35-12 halftime advantage. A solid defensive effort prevented Menlo from having any double-digit scorers. Scoring leader Sam Erisman was held to seven points.
Junior Erin Poindexter-McHan led the Panthers with 15 points with freshman Hannah Jump adding 11. Pinewood made 11 of 22 from 3-point range.
Should Pinewood defend its WBAL title, the Panthers likely will be included in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs once again.
"Where we play is out of our control," Scheppler said. "We'll continue to play relentless, connected basketball."
In East Palo Alto, Eastside Prep played without three starters and still handed visiting Castilleja a 61-35 defeat. The Panthers got 18 points from freshman Kiki Humphrey and 16 from freshman Kayla Mahan.
Castilleja (0-4, 8-9) rallied from a 16-point deficit and was within 43-35 late in the third quarter, but went scoreless the rest of the way. Cate Alder sank four 3-pointers for a team-high 12 points and moved into fifth place all-time in made threes for the Gators. Anika Adzich had eight points and six rebounds and Ellie Chen added eight points with seven assists.
In Atherton, host sacred Heart Prep got its first WBAL Foothill Division victory with a 62-56 overtime win over Notre Dame-San Jose. Grace Battles tallied a season-high 23 points for the Gators (1-3, 13-4) with Ma'ata Makoni adding 14.
SHP trailed at halftime, 29-25, and entering the final period, 40-37, before rallying to tie and force the extra period where the Gators outscored the visitors, 10-2.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Priory remained a game back of first-place Mercy-San Francisco with a 50-19 romp over host Crystal Springs. Sam McCabe had 11 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Panthers (4-1, 10-5) with Ila Lane adding 11 points and eight boards and Tatiana Reese contributing 10 points. Annie Boyle and Ana Barton each added seven rebounds for Priory.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto remained solidly in second place following a 67-12 rout of visiting Wilcox at Gunn High.
"We played with great energy and discipline on defense," said Paly coach Scott Peters. "The defense fueled our offense, and we shot with conviction and poise."
The Vikings (4-2, 11-6) rolled to a 20-4 first-quarter lead and held a 34-6 halftime advantage. Carly Leong drained five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points for the Vikings with Alexis Harris adding 13. Paly finished with 14 3-pointers.
In Los Altos, Archer Olson scored 14 points while Georgia Hake and Tiazha Jackson each tallied 13 to pace Gunn to a 57-46 victory over Los Altos. Jackson pulled down 14 rebounds and Olson added 10 boards while Hake contributed five rebounds and four assists as the Titans improved to 2-4 in league (11-6 overall).
Sacred Heart Prep won its eighth straight with a 75-37 victory over visiting Priory in WBAL action as Kyle Stalder tallied a season-high 21 points for the Gators.
SHP (7-0, 9-7) held on to its one-game lead as Mason Randall drained five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points. The Gators outscored the Panthers by 43-18 over the second and third periods. Senior Scotty Harris led the Panthers (4-3, 8-4) with 18 points. SHP limited Priory's 6-foot-9 Emmanuel Ajanaku and 6-6 Ayo Aderoboye to a combined three points.
In East Palo Alto, Pinewood remained a game back of SHP following a 56-53 victory over Eastside Prep. Junior Matthew Peery made 10 of 15 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 31 points for Pinewood (6-1, 9-7) and Nathan Beak added 12 points.
Eastside Prep (1-6, 9-7) put on a rally in the four quarter and scored 22 points to make it close. Senior Daryl Carr led Eastside Prep with 18 points while juniors Isaiah East and Aaron Cason each finished with 14.
In Atherton, Menlo School steadily worked its way past Harker to post a 66-49 victory in WBAL play. The Knights (4-3, 6-11) moved into a three-way tie for third place as senior Jared Lucian tallied 18 points, shooting 4 for 9 from three-point range. He also had five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Fellow senior Charlie Roth scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, helping the Knights pull away from a 40-32 halftime lead. Junior Hayden Pegley and sophomore Will Roth combined for 12 points and 15 rebounds for Menlo while senior Ben Simon ran the attack, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and four assists.
Menlo led 35-32 before Jack Gold came off the bench and immediately dropped a 3-pointer and another basket in the final minute before the half.
With co-leader Menlo School idle, Sacred Heart Prep took over first place in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 3-0 victory over host Castilleja at the Mayfield Soccer Complex. The Gators (4-0-1, 8-4-1) got the winning goal from Cameron Gordon in the 32nd minute of an assist from Mia Shenk. Gordon scored again in the 54th minute, with Carey Bradley assisting, before Ingrid Corrigan wrapped up the scoring in the 75th minute with Shenk assisting again.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, host Pinewood remained within reach of first place following a 7-0 romp over Priory. Olivia Biggs scored three goals with Amrita Mecker and Jordan Berke each tallying twice. Zarin Mohsenin and Caleigh Page each provided two assists for Pinewood (3-1, 7-5-1). Mecker did a fine defensive job on Priory's Brenda Uribe.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton fell back in the race following a 5-1 loss to host Woodside. The Wildcats (7-0) remained in first place while the Bears (4-2-1 and 6-4-1) dropped into a two-way tie for third with Aragon. M-A got its lone goal just before halftime when Margaret Child sent a corner kick to fellow junior Ali Sivilotti, who headed the pass into the net.