Junior Erin Dunn starts at center for the Menlo School girls basketball team this year, and why not? She's the tallest starting player on the team and doesn't mind a little contact under the basket.
She might have the mindset of a post player, though her size would indicate otherwise. She's 5-foot-9 and had to vie with three players who stood 5-10 or taller Thursday night.
Palo Alto goalkeeper Kaitlyn Hanay.
Menlo (2-0) graduated three players from last year's team that stood 5-9 or taller so coach John Paye is turning to the 3-point shot for some of his offense.
That's where junior Mallory North comes in handy. Displaying a deft touch, she made five of the Knights' eight 3-pointers in the contest, matching her career-high with 17 points to go with 10 rebounds. She made 15 3-pointers all of last year.
"We don't have as much size as we used to so we have to shoot the 3," Paye said. "Just like everybody, we want to become a little more consistent."
Sam Erisman hit a pair of 3-pointers en route to a game-high 18 points. Last year's leading scorer, Erisman has an uncanny ability to get inside and get herself to the foul line.
De'Jeane Stine also hit a 3-pointer and finished with nine points.
The Knights are off for another week due to final exams at the school and will have played twice in 21 days before embarking on an ambitious schedule that sees Menlo play four times within a six-day period.
Menlo-Atherton visits for a nonleague game a week from Friday at 6:15 p.m., followed by the boys game at 7:45 p.m. and both Knights' teams travel to Half Moon Bay the next day.
In another game, Zoe Zaharias scored 12 points to lead Sacred Heart Prep past Fremont-Sunnyvale, 44-37, in a nonleague game.
Charlotte Levison and Grace Battles combined for another 16 points for the Gators (2-1), who host San Mateo a week from Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
In a nonleague game played Wednesday, Pinewood topped host Gunn, 84-34, as five different players reached double figures. led by Akayla Hackson with 19 points. Hannah Jump and Mikaela Topper each added 15, while Brianna Claros scored 13 and Isabelle Chung had 12, all via the 3-pointer.
The Panthers (4-1) were 14-of-33 (.424) from long range. Topper made all three of her attempts and Jump and Hackson each hit three.
Pinewood travels to O'Dowd for a game Saturday at 2 p.m. Gunn (2-2) goes to Capuchino for a 5:30 p.m. game Friday.
In an always competitive rivalry, Menlo tied Menlo-Atherton, 1-1, in a nonleague game on the road Thursday.
Menlo-Atherton scored in the 23rd minute and carried the advantage into halftime.
In the second half, Menlo was awarded a penalty kick and senior Daniel Hausen converted the equalizer.
"The boys deserve a lot of credit for a good result against a very tough opponent," Menlo coach Marc Kerrest said. "Most importantly, the performance was a huge step up from Saturday (vs. St. Francis). The boys controlled the ball, used the space effectively and got themselves in dangerous positions."
Menlo holds a 1-0-1 record after defeating St. Francis, 1-0, on Saturday.
"It's only our second game of the season but if we can keep improving the way we have so far we are going to be very difficult to play against."
The Knights host Aragon at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Gunn (2-2-1) and Santa Clara played to a scoreless draw Wednesday. The Titans meet Monta Vista at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Homestead Christmas Cup.
Natalie Maloney scored three times, one of eight Palo Alto players to find the net Thursday, as the Vikings drove past El Camino, 11-0, in a nonleague match.
Chloe Japic added a pair of scores, while Emily Tomz and Tess Preising each had a goal and two assists for Palo Alto, which scored its most goals in a single game since beating Latino College Prep, 14-0, on Dec. 1, 2008, when Barack Obama was the President-elect.
Japic and Preising each extended their scoring streaks to five matches. Japic has seven goals and Preising five in the early going.
Palo Alto has outscored its opponents by a 28-1 margin and is averaging 5.6 goals a game. Sofia Vogel, Ally Scheve, Leela Srinivasan and Caroline Furrrier also scored. Maloney and Japic also added an assist.
Clara Luehrs and Kaitlyn Hanay each played a half in goal and combined for three saves.
The Vikings (5-0) play at Terra Nova at 10 a.m. on Saturday, their final match of 2016.
Gunn played their final match of the year Thursday, losing to Aragon, 5-1. Malia Jefferson scored the Titans' goal with an assist from Hailey Leclerc.
Gunn (0-4-1) will next appear in its league opener at Wilcox on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
Emma Doettling scored three times to help host Pinewood down James Lick, 4-1, in a nonleague contest. Becky Wilson also scored for the Panthers (3-1-1), who are off until Terra Nova visits for an 11 a.m. game on Dec. 17.
In other matches, Menlo beat Woodside, 2-0, and Castilleja fell to Crystal Springs, 3-0.
Menlo junior Julia Wang scored first for the Knights on an unassisted goal in the first half. In the second half, Cleo King scored on a feed from freshman Sidney Pena.
The Knights (1-1-0) next play St. Ignatius in the Firebird Classic at 3:20 pm Saturday.
Gunn fell to Saratoga, 58-47, at the Wildcat Shootout in Los Gatos on Thursday. Demario Shepard scored 14 points and Eli Russo added 13.
The Titans (3-2) face Mt. Pleasant in Friday's final round.
In related news:
Menlo School grad Drew Edelman returned to the court this season for the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team after sitting out a year following her transfer from USC.
She made an immediate impact, earning Big West Player of the Week honors her second week in uniform. The 6-foot-4 forward was 23-of-34 from the field, scoring 52 points over a three-game stretch that included two victories.
Edelmam scored a career-high 20 points against Northern Arizona in 24 minutes, adding four rebounds. She ranks second in the Big West with a .569 field goal percentage. Thus far, she's averaging 9.3 points and a team-leading 5.4 rebounds per game.
The Gauchos play at San Diego State Sunday and host UCLA Wednesday night.