For the second time this season, the Palo Alto and Gunn girls basketball teams engaged in a defensive struggle, and for the second time this season the Vikings' defense won out.
Paly held Gunn to 11 second-half points, as the Vikings grinded out a 40-26 SCVAL De Anza Division victory over their crosstown rivals. Paly improved to 5-2 in league (12-6 overall) while Gunn fell to 2-5 in the division (11-7 overall).
Paly moved to within a game of first-place Los Gatos (6-1), which suffered a 43-41 loss to Wilcox on Friday.
The Vikings were led by Lauren Koyama's 12 points, while Tiazha Jackson scored 10 for the Titans. Gunn particularly struggled shooting beyond the arc, finishing 0-12 in 3-point attempts.
Although Paly also struggled to find an offensive flow, their defensive pressure forced 14 Gunn turnovers, which gave the Vikings more opportunities to score.
"We played excellent defense and harassed them the whole game," Palo Alto head coach Scott Peters said. "That's what we tried to do. Make them run around a lot, put a lot of pressure on them and make them work for their scores."
The Titans started the game attacking the basket offensively, and got out to an early 14-8 lead. But, the Vikings went on 10-1 run to close the second quarter and led by three points at the half.
After Paly opened up an 11-point advantage late in the third quarter, Gunn forward Archer Olson started the fourth with two baskets, but the Vikings advantage was never truly threatened thanks to the strong play of Alexis Harris.
Harris scored eight of her nine points in the fourth quarter, and grabbed a number of offensive rebounds to help the Paly secure the victory.
"(Alexis) really wanted this game," Peters said. "She worked really hard, even though she had four fouls went and got the ball and put it in. That was all on her own effort."
In other games Friday night:
Priory avenged an earlier loss to Mercy-San Francisco and moved into a tie for first place with the Skippers in the West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division) following a 52-48 triumph on Friday in Portola Valley. The Panthers improved to 5-1 in league (11-5 overall) while handing Mercy-SF its first division loss.
Sophomore Tatiana Reese led Priory with 22 points and five rebounds. She made 10 of 16 shots from the field. Freshman Ila Lane added 16 points plus 17 rebounds for Priory while using her 6-foot-3 height to make six of 10 field goals. Sam McCabe finished with eight points and five rebounds for Priory, which again played without injured starter Gabby Ruiz.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton won its 15th straight and remained tied for first place following a 73-26 rout of host Sequoia. The Bears improved to 8-0 in league and 18-2 overall. Freshman Mele Kailahi finished with a team-high 19 points and junior post Ofa Sili added 13. Senior Annalisa Crowe had a trio of 3-pointers for nine points. A 22-4 first quarter by the Bears got them rolling.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, Menlo School defeated host Eastside Prep for the second time this season with a 52-34 victory. The Knights (5-1, 15-4) remained alone in second place, a game behind division-leading Pinewood.
Menlo scored early and took a 15-6 first-quarter lead, extending that to 24-16 at halftime. The Knights had four players in double figures -- Hannah Paye (11), De'Jeane Stine (11), Kenzie Duffner (11) and Sam Erisman (10). Erisman also led the team with 11 rebounds.
Eastside Prep once again played without scoring leaders Zion Gabriel and Kayla Tahaafe plus Ra'Anna Bey. All three have missed two straight games.