The Pinewood girls have passed the first test in the Open Division regional bracket of the CIF State Basketball Championships following a 50-45 victory over No. 5-seeded Bishop O'Dowd (24-7) on Friday night in Los Altos Hills.
The No. 4-seeded Panthers (23-5) pulled away from a 12-12 game after one period and grabbed a 30-2- halftime lead. That margin helped offset O'Dowd's five-point advantage in the final quarter.
Junior Akayla Hackson led Pinewood with 15 points with freshman Hannah Jump adding 12, which included a trio of treys.
Next up for the No. 4-seeded Panthers (23-5), however, is the nation's top-ranked team -- St. Mary's -- on Tuesday night in Stockton at 7 p.m.
"We ll be in a total what-the-heck-w've-got-nothing-to-lose mentality," Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said of the showdown. "We know they have depth and lots talent. But, believe it or not, Pinewood scares people in how we play, how we shoot, how we don't quit, how we execute game plans."
Thus, said Scheppler: "Why not us!!"
St. Mary's brings a 28-0 record following a 90-65 romp over No. 8 Carondelet in another first-round game on Friday. St. Mary's is averaging 86.1 points per game and will provide arguable the toughest test ever for the Pinewood program, despite the Panthers' No. 9 state ranking and No. 24 national rank by MaxPreps.
Pinewood took control against O'Dowd with a 13-0 run in the late first and early second quarter and never trailed. The Dragons had a 12-9 lead late in the first quarter when the Pinewood run started.
O'Dowd forced several turnovers in the fourth quarter and made a 6-0 run to draw to within 45-43. Hackson, however, made five of six free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
In NorCal action on Saturday night, five local teams all will be playing at home.
In Division I, No. 4 Menlo-Atherton (26-4) will host No. 5 Heritage (22-9) of Brentwood at 6 p.m.
In Division IV second-round games, No. 2 Menlo School (19-7) will host No. 7 University Prep (25-5) and No. 4 Sacred Heart Prep (20-6) welcomes No. 12 Central Valley (19-11). Both tip off at 6 p.m.
In Division V, No. 1 Eastside Prep (16-11) will host No. 8 Argonaut (20-10) and No. 3 Priory (18-6) lays out the welcome mat for No. 6 Cloverdale. Again, both tip at 6 p.m.
In the second round of the boys' Division I playoffs, No. 5 Menlo-Atherton (26-4) will face No. 4 McClymonds (21-9) at Merritt College in Oakland at 6 p.m.
Winner advance to quarterfinal action Tuesday.