The West Bay Athletic League basketball race is all tied up and the Sacred Heart Prep boys are the reason behind it.
The Gators had been rolling in the league with nine straight victories that earned them first place. Now, they have to share the top spot following a 52-46 upset loss to host King's Academy on Friday night in Sunnyvale.
SHP falls to 9-1 in league (11-9 overall) and is tied for the top spot with Pinewood (9-1, 13-7), a 71-63 winner over Harker on Friday.
"We just haven't been playing good team basketball since we played Priory two weeks ago," said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. "Team defense has been an issue and we have seemed to be on our heels as soon as the game starts. We are not setting the tone defensively and teams are feeling comfortable against us."
SHP, which dropped a 15-point nonleague decision to Menlo-Atherton last Saturday, trailed by 17-15 after one quarter before tying things at the half, 30-30. The teams played even in the third before the Gators were outscored in the final period, 10-4.
"We did a good job tonight getting in the bonus in the first half and then again late in the third quarter," said Martinelli. "It was a bit deflating to see us miss so many front ends of one and ones and we weren't able to take advantage of the whistles being in our favor."
The Gators wound up missing half their 22 free-throw attempts.
"Kings beat us to a lot of loose balls, got good position for offensive boards to keep plays alive and executed in the clutch," Martinelli said. "They deserved to win the game."
Seniors Connor Moses and Mason Randell led SHP with 12 points each but the rest of the squad came up short of their season offensive averages.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood won its fifth straight league game and pulled into a tie for first place by holding off a pesky Harker team that was coming off a one-point loss to Sacred Heart Prep.
The Panthers were led by junior Matthew Peery, who had a game-high 27 points including four 4 3-pointers and five rebounds. Senior Roshan ball added 15 points and seven rebounds, and senior Nathan Beak chipped in 12 points and nine assists and held Harker's leading scorer Roy Yuan to just seven points. Elijah Edgehill led Harker with 19 points.
Also in the WBAL, Eastside Prep got 26 points from Isaiah East in a 65-37 victory over host Crystal Springs. The Panthers (3-7, 11-8) also got 16 points from Daryl Carr. The Panthers held a 37-13 halftime lead and ballooned that to 42-18 while running past the last-place Gryphons (0-10, 7-13).
In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton made Senior Night special by clinching no worse than a tie for the league title with a 69-55 victory over visiting Carlmont. The Bears improved to 10-0 in league (20-2 overall) and have a two-game lead over Burlingame (8-2, 16-6) with two games remaining. M-A hosts the Panthers on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., with a victory by the Bears wrapping up the regular-season title.
M-A won its 12th straight by leading wire to wire while using a fastbreak offense and a lock- down trapping defense to race to a 35-24 halftime advantage. Christian Fioretti had 16 points and four assists to lead the Bears while brother Lucas Fioretti had 11 points and seven steals. Blake Henry and Eric Norton each had 10 points.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn held on to first place with a 63-59 victory over visiting Los Gatos. The Titans improved to 7-2 in league (14-2 overall). Alex Gil-Fernandez led Gunn with 17 points. Gunn holds a one-game lead over Wilcox (6-3).
The Titans had an 11-0 run in the third period to pull away from a close game, which saw the Wildcats get to within 60-57 with under two minutes to play. Gunn also got 15 points from Jonathan Davis and 10 from Andre Augustin.
In Los Altos, Palo Alto avenged an earlier loss to Los Altos by holding off the Eagles, 40-36, as both teams combined for four points in the fourth quarter. The Vikings improved to 5-4 in league (14-7 overall) and remained two games back of first place while moving into sole possession of third place.
Paly, which scored just 12 points in the second half, was led by Spencer Rojahn's 14 points -- all of them coming in the first half -- while Max Dorward added 13.
With senior Riley Hemm scoring 25 points, Sacred Heart Prep registered one of its biggest WBAL Foothill Division wins in years with a 58-53 triumph over host Eastside Prep. The Gators (4-3, 16-4) moved into sole possession of third place as Hemm made all 10 of her free-throw attempts to help drop the Panthers to 3-4 in league (11-10 overall).
SHP grabbed an 18-11 first-quarter lead before Eastside Prep reversed that in the second period for a 29-29 halftime deadlock. The Gators pulled away in the second half with Ma'ata Makoni wrapping up an 11-point effort. Kayla Tahaafe led Eastside Prep with 22 points and Zion Gabriel contributed 11.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood held on to first place with an 84-30 rout of Castilleja. The Panthers (7-0, 16-3) raced to a 50-18 halftime lead. Mikaela Topper land Akayla Hackson led the way with 17 points with Erin Poindexter-McHan adding 16. Ellie Chen paced the Gators (0-7, 8-12) with 16 points.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, sophomore Tatiana Reese scored 17 points and added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, the Priory girls hung on to a share of first place with a 40-35 victory over visiting King's Academy. The Panthers improved to 6-1 in league (12-5 overall) as freshman Ila Lane added 13 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks. Lane made six of seven shots from the floor. Gabby Ruiz returned the lineup following an injury and scored four points with seven rebounds and two assists.
In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton held on to first place and won its 17th straight with a 58-32 victory over visiting Carlmont on Senior Night. The Bears moved to 10-0 in league (20-2 overall) after honoring its seniors prior to the game.
M-A seniors Annalisa Crowe, Jaimie Kirkpatrick and Delilah Kline all hit 3-pointers while Sally Carlson scored from the line and added four assists and six rebounds. M-A was led by Ofa Sili and Greer Hoyem, each of whom scored 12 points. The Bears held the Scots to 10 second-half points. Ilana Baer and Megan Sparrow each had four steals.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto remained a half-game behind first-place Los Gatos with a 70-30 romp over host Los Altos.
The Vikings, who improved to 7-2 in league (14-6 overall), made 13 of 22 shots from 3-point range with Carly Leong making five and finishing with 18 points. Lauren Koyama added 14 points, making four treys.
Defense, however, was the key to the game. Alexis Harris, a 6-foot-3 senior, had her best defensive game of the season, according to Paly coach Scott Peters. She also scored 10 points.
"The defense was the key as it wore down Los Altos and it made it hard for them to get off good shots," he said, noting the 22 turnovers that Los Altos accumulated.
Los Gatos, meanwhile, posted a 54-47 victory over host Gunn to improve to 7-1 in league.