Plenty of important prep matchups with title implications


While most league championships can't be won this week, there are a number of matchups that will go a long way in determining who will be crowned champs by season's end.

One of the most anticipated showdowns in girls basketball will take place Wednesday when host Menlo-Atherton and Hillsdale match unbeaten records in the PAL South Division on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

The teams meet only once this season, which puts a premium on the outcome between the Bears (8-0, 18-2) and Knights (8-0, 12-8). Menlo-Atherton brings a 15-game win streak into the showdown, having not lost since Deb. 10 (to Presentation). The Bears' only other loss was to Palo Alto, just two days earlier.

Wednesday's winner grabs a one-game lead with just three to play and earns the top seed for the PAL Tournament that begins Feb. 15. At stake is a possible berth in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs.

The Menlo-Atherton boys, meanwhile, take a 10-game win streak into Wednesday's game at Hillsdale (7:30 p.m.) with the Bears (8-0, 18-2) holding a two-game lead over Burlingame with four games to play. M-A and Burlingame meet Feb. 9 in the Bears' gym to likely decide the regular-season champ.

In boys soccer on Wednesday, Sacred Heart Prep will host rival Menlo School in a West Bay Athletic League showdown for sole possession of second place at 3:30 p.m. Both teams are 4-2-1 in league and trail first-place King's Academy (6-0-1) with five matches remaining.

With only the top two teams guaranteed berths in the CCS playoffs, the SHP-Menlo winner holds an advantage. The Gators still have a match against King's Academy on Feb. 19 in Atherton.

The Menlo-Atherton boys also face important soccer matches after being upset by Half Moon Bay on Friday, 2-0. While that didn't knock the Bears (6-2, 10-3) out of first place, the loss tightened the race considerably with the Bears now holding just a two-point lead over Sequoia and Aragon, both 5-2-1.

Menlo-Atherton will host Sequoia on Friday at 4 p.m. and Aragon on Feb. 17, with victories over both teams likely wrapping up the title and a berth in the first-ever CCS Open Division playoffs.

On Thursday, the Menlo School girls will host Sacred Heart Prep in a showdown for the WBAL Foothill Division title at 2:45 p.m. The Gators are 5-0-1 in league with Menlo at 4-0-1 and facing a three-match week. It's a two-team race for the division title, as long as both teams first win on Tuesday.

SHP and Menlo played to a 3-3 deadlock in their first meeting. Even if the Gators win both their matches this week, the Knights can force SHP to wait until its final match to defend its title by winning their remaining matches.

Perhaps an even more important soccer match for girls will take place Friday when Palo Alto hosts Mountain View at 3:30 p.m. Both teams are unbeaten on the season -- the Vikings are 12-0-1 and the Spartans 13-0-1 -- prior to SCVAL De Anza Division matches Wednesday.

The teams played to a scoreless tie in their first meeting, leaving Paly with a 7-0-1 league mark entering this week with Mountain View at 6-0-1. While Friday's showdown isn't the final league match for either team, the winner all but wraps up the division title and a berth in the CCS Open Division playoffs. The rivals faced each other in the CCS Division I finals last season (Mountain View won) and most likely will meet again in the Open Division, which not only takes five automatic 'A' league champs but the top three CCS point-getters.

In another important girls' soccer showdown, Menlo-Atherton hosts Carlmont on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Bears are in third place in the PAL Bay Division at 5-2-1 while the Scots are second with a 6-1-1 mark. M-A needs a victory to remain ahead of fourth-place Aragon and Burlingame, both 4-3-1, with CCS berths on the line.

The Paly boys, meanwhile, are 6-0-2 in the SCVAL De Anza Division and hold a seven-point lead over second-place Homestead (3-1-4) with four matches remaining. Should the Vikings defeat Gunn (Wednesday) and Mountain View (Friday) this week, they'll clinch the division title and a berth in the CCS Open Division playoffs.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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