M-A teams remain on course for PAL South Division hoop titles


Time is running out on those teams hoping to catch the Menlo-Atherton boys and girls in the PAL South Division basketball races this season.

With only three games remaining, the M-A girls hold a one-game lead while the boys lead by two. Both squads solidified their division leads with impressive victories on Wednesday.

In a showdown for first place, the host M-A girls won their 16th straight game by shocking former co-leader Hillsdale, 65-35. The Bears improved to 9-0 in league (19-2 overall) while the Knights fell to 8-1 and 12-9).

Hillsdale raced to a 30-23 first-half lead as Marisa Otonari drained four 3-pointers, all coming in the first period as the Knights held a 20-12 advantage.

Neither team scored for the first three minutes of the second period before Hillsdale connected on a pair of 3-pointers to extend its lead. M-A's Ofa Sili kept her team in the game with 10 first-half points and freshman Mele Kailahi nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Bears into intermission with some momentum -- despite trailing for the first time in almost two months.

M-A coach Markisha Coleman made some defensive adjustments at halftime and the Bears dominated. Megan Sparrow got M-A rolling with a 3-pointer on the opening possession and Kailahi followed with three more treys to finish with 16 points.

M-A's Ilana Baer scored 10 second-half points and added three steals to spark the Bears to 42 second-half points. Meanwhile, the M-A defense limited the Knights to just five points after intermission as the Bears pressured Hillsdale's 3-point shooters.

M-A will host Carlmont on Friday at 6:15 p.m. After that, the Bears face two teams with losing records to close the regular season.

While the M-A girls were cruising, the M-A boys were doing the same during a 63-47 victory at Hillsdale. The Bears grabbed a 16-8 first-quarter lead and led by 34-18 at the half on the way to improving to 9-0 in league and 19-2 overall with their 11th straight win.

Christian Fioretti led the Bears with 20 points with Eric Norton adding 19 points and three steals. Lucas Fioretti dished out five assists for M-A, which played without starting post Blake Henry, sidelined by illness.

M-A will host Carlmont on Friday at 7:30 p.m., with a victory giving the Bears no worse than a tie for the division title. The Bears can win the crown outright by beating second-place Burlingame on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.) in Atherton.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, the Gunn boys lost a game on their league lead following an 86-73 loss to host Wilcox. The Titans fell to 6-2 in league (13-2 overall) following a five-game win streak. The Chargers (5-3) moved into second place.

After both teams put up 15 points in the first quarter, Wilcox opened a lead with 24 points and pulled away with 47 points in the second half. Alex Gil-Fernandez had 17 points for Gunn with Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich and Jonathan Davis each adding 13.

In Palo Alto, Max Dorward tallied 18 points and Jack Simison added 15 as Paly (4-4, 13-7) handed Milpitas a 60-51 loss at Gunn High.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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