There is no question that the identical 25-2 records compiled by the Menlo-Atherton boys and girls rank among the best in school basketball history.
Historically speaking, having both teams in the Central Coast Section Open Division is a high-water mark, as well. Yet, both squads have a long way to go to match or surpass previous M-A squads.
The M-A boys captured the 1989 CIF State Division II championship with a 32-4 record and the '88 squad finished 29-6, winning the NorCal title but falling in the state finals.
For the girls, the Bears won three straight CCS Division II titles under Pam Wimberly from 1991-93 with the '91 team finishing 30-2 and the '93 squad going 25-3.
Neither Menlo-Atherton, however, has won a CCS title since '89 (boys) and '93 (girls). Thus, the Bears are way overdue.
Breaking those droughts, however, won't be easy this season in the Open Division. The boys, seeded No. 4, will open against No. 5 Mitty (13-11) on Friday at Piedmont Hills at 7:30 p.m. The girls, seeded No. 5, will open against No. 4 Valley Christian (17-7) at Wilcox High at 5:30 p.m.
Should the M-A boys win, they'll likely face No. 1 St. Francis (22-2) in the semifinals on Tuesday. Should the M-A girls win, they'll likely face No. 1 Mitty (20-3) the same evening.
The road will be difficult, to say the least, as both M-A teams head into uncharted territory. The girls fell in the Division I finals last year while the boys fell in the first round of CCS.
Talent and depth have brought coaches Mike Molieri and Markisha Coleman this far, however, and there's no reason to believe either squad will see its season end quickly.
The M-A boys are coming off a 45-27 victory over Half Moon Bay in the finals of the Peninsula Athletic League Tournament and will take a 17-game win streak into the section playoffs.
The M-A girls, coming off a 60-42 triumph over Oceana in the PAL Tournament finals, bring a 22-game win streak into Friday's game. M-A hasn't lost since Dec. 10.
Joining the M-A girls in the Open Division will be No. 2 Pinewood and No. 6 Menlo School. The Panthers (20-4) will take on No. 7 St. Francis (16-8) on Friday at Gunn High at 7:30 p.m., after the Knights face No. 3 Sacred Heart Cathedral (15-8) at 5:30 p.m.
Palo Alto (16-8) will take its No. 4 seed against No. 5 Cupertino (18-7) in a Division I quarterfinals on Saturday at Piedmont Hills at 4:30 p.m. The Pioneers advanced with a 39-35 win over Silver Creek.
Gunn (17-2), despite winning the SCVAL De Anza Division title and navigating the regular season with just two losses, lost out in the numbers game for the Open Division. As a Division II school this season, the Titans were knocked out by fellow D-II teams Serra, Mitty and St. Francis.
The Titans will begin the postseason on Saturday in a quarterfinal against No. 7 Leigh (11-13) at Santa Clara High at 2:45 p.m. Leigh advanced with a 79-75 win over Lynbrook.
Sacred Heart Prep, which played in the Open Division last season, is back in Division IV. The Gators (14-10) open Saturday against rival Menlo School (10-15) in a quarterfinal at the Kaiser Arena in Santa Cruz at 1 p.m.
Menlo used a 19-2 first quarter to defeat visiting Terra Nova, 60-50.
"I like how we came in with a game plan and a scout (report) and we followed it mostly and I saw many good plays," Menlo coach Keith Larsen said. "I'm so proud of them and how hard they play."
Menlo senior Jared Lucian poured in a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and had four assists. Sophomore JH Tevis posted 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Junior Hayden Pegley pitched in with 10 points with five rebounds and two blocks. Senior Charlie Roth also grabbed eight rebounds while Ben Simon dished out five assists.
Larsen said the team's unity and work ethic is what has prevailed throughout the season.
"They may miss a layup here and there, but they way they work and root each other on is second to none," Larsen said. "I keep wanting to go on (in the postseason) because I just love coaching them so much."
In Division V, top-seeded Pinewood (16-8) appears to be the favorite for the section crown in a bracket featuring three of the top four seeds -- including No. 3 Priory (11-8) and No. 4 Eastside Prep (13-11) -- from the West Bay Athletic League. Pinewood beat both league rivals twice during the season.
Pinewood will face No. 8 Trinity Christian (10-11), an 80-54 winner over No. 9 St. Thomas More, in a quarterfinal Saturday at St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic in Watsonville at 1 p.m.
At the same school, Eastside Prep will take on No. 5 Alma Heights (22-5) at 4:30 p.m., and Priory will face No. 6 R.L. Stevenson (12-13) at 6:15 p.m. Alma Heights edged Crystal Springs, 33-32, and RLS romped past Pacific Collegiate, 75-50.
Palo Alto (16-7) is the top seed in Division I and will open in Saturday's quarterfinals against No. 8 Cupertino (17-8), a 48-27 winner over No. 9 Carlmont, at Wilcox High at 6:15.
In Division II, No. 7 Gunn (14-10) will play host to No. 2 St. Ignatius (10-14) in a quarterfinal on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The Titans advanced with a 54-39 win over No. 10 Westmoor (11-11) as Archer Olson scored 19 points and Georgia Hake added 11.
In Division IV, Sacred Heart Prep (17-6) will put its No. 2 seed on the line Saturday at Menlo School (4:30 p.m.) against unseeded Terra Nova (12-14), which advanced with a 49-28 win over No. 7 Mercy-San Francisco.
Also in Division IV, No. 8 Castilleja (10-15) will play No. 1 Scotts Valley (21-4) at Menlo (6:15 p.m.) after advancing with a 53-36 victory over No. 9 Santa Cruz (10-14) in Palo Alto on Thursday night.
Backed by a loud home crowd, Castilleja senior Ellie Chen scored nine first-quarter points and junior Cate Alder and freshman Claire Pisani tallied six each in the second quarter as the Gators built a 31-12 halftime lead despite being whistled for 14 fouls.
Three Castilleja players fouled out in the second half, including Pisani and starting guard Katie Fearon, but Lindsay Rosston, Jordan Yau and Liz Pang stepped up and the Gators extended their lead to 23 points in the third period. The Cardinals got no closer than 17 points the rest of the way.
The two teams totaled 46 fouls and Chen equaled Paige Vermeer's school record of 13 for 13 on free throws. She finished with 27 points, including four 3-pointers, to raise her school single-season record total to 66. Chen added three assists and four steals, Alder scored 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers for 41 on the season, and had nine rebounds. Pisani had eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks, and freshman Anika Adzich scored seven with nine boards.
In Division V, the quarterfinals will be held on Saturday at Del Mar High in San Jose. Eastside Prep (13-11) is the No. 1 seed and heavy favorite. The Panthers open against No. 8 Oakwood (15-8), a 56-29 winner over No. 9 G.B. Kirby, at 6:15 p.m.
Priory (16-5) is the No. 2 seed and will take on No. 7 Pacific Collegiate (12-13), a 34-26 winner over No. 10 St. Lawrence, at 2:45 p.m.
Menlo School Athletics and Castilleja Athletics contributed