The Menlo-Atherton boys and girls are heading into the Central Coast Section basketball playoffs with plenty of momentum after both teams captured their respective titles at the Peninsula Athletic League Tournament on Saturday night at Mills High in Millbrae.
The M-A girls improved to 25-2 and won their 22nd straight game, a 60-42 triumph over Oceana and the M-A boys improved to 25-2 after registering an impressive 45-27 victory over Half Moon Bay (25-2).
M-A pulled ahead by 32-20 in the third, led by Blake Henry and Eric Norton. In the fourth quarter, Half Moon Bay's star guard Tommy Nuno fouled out and the Cougars never could get closer as the Bears won their first-ever PAL Tournament title.
Norton led the Bears with 14 points with four steals and four assists. Earlier in the week he was named the Most Valuable Player of the PAL South Division.
Lucas Fioretti had 11 points on three 3's and added four rebounds and two steals. Henry just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine boards, Christian Fioretti had six points and five assists and Kai Winterling hit three clutch free throws for the Bears.
In the earlier title game, the Menlo Atherton girls defended their No. 1 seed and tournament championship by rolling past Oceana. Sophomore Greer Hoyem, who was named the MVP of the PAL South Division, responded to the honor by scoring 23 points, including 12 in the first quarter as the Bears took a 16-4 lead.
In the second quarter, the Sharks came back with Keri La scoring all six of her points. Oceana closed the lead to one point before M-A scored the final three points in the half. In the third, the Bears began to pull away with Megan Sparrow hitting a pair of 3s. The Bears' Ofa Sili dominated the paint, scoring all 12 of her points in the fourth to put the game away. Sili had eight rebounds and an assist, Hoyem had seven rebounds and Carly McLanahan and Ilana Baer combined for 14 assists.
In a big nonleague game, the Pinewood girls went down in their final regular-season game, 73-57 to state No. 2 ranked Miramonte. The Panthers dropped to 20-4 overall while Miramonte finished its regular season at 26-0.
"That's a great team," said Pinewood head coach Doc Scheppler. "They're not ranked where they're ranked because they suck; they're really good. Any time you play basketball, it's about easy baskets. How many easy baskets did they get? We've got to hit our three's and we've got to be at the foul line and we didn't get to the foul line."
Miramonte started to put the Panthers out of reach in the third quarter when senior Keana Delos santos nailed a 3-pointer and gave her team the 53-38 advantage. The senior hit four treys and had 20 points for her squad.
In the first quarter, Pinewood kept it close when junior Erin Poindexter-McHan sank three shots in a row for seven points, keeping the deficit at 20-18 to end the quarter.
Miramonte started off the second quarter with a 12-4 run, with a couple of 3-pointers from Clair Steele and Elle Louie. Pinewood answered back with its own 9-0 run with 3's from Hannah Jump, Chloe Eackles and Kaitlyn Leung. Miramonte went into halftime with a 37-32 lead.
The outsized Pinewood defense couldn't stop the Miramonte offense in the start of the third. Miramonte went on a 15-6 run with points from Delos santos and Sabrina Ionescu. Senior Ionescu had a solid game and finished with 20 points.
Miramonte finished the third quarter with the 57-40 lead. The Panthers were outscored 20-8 in the quarter.
"We need to start off aggressive," said Chloe Eackles, the lone Pinewood senior on Senior Night. "After halftime we usually hit a wall to start the third and that's when teams get back. If we start out attacking, we'll be good."
The Pinewood offense finally came alive in the fourth quarter with five 3-pointers and finished with 13.
"This game really showed us how we have to play and our mentality and how we need to stay focused the whole game," said Jump, a freshman who finished with 18 points and five 3-pointers. "We can't take breaks, we just have to push through it."
Menlo-Atherton Athletics contributed