The Pinewood girls basketball team survived a big scare from Palo Alto and emerged with a 42-40 victory Thursday in a semifinal game of the girls' tournament at the Joe Schram Holiday Classic at St. Francis.
Palo Alto came out determined to put forth its best effort against the powerhouse Pinewood program.
"I was really pumped up," said Lauren Koyama, who led Palo Alto with 17 points. "I wanted to really go after it."
Palo Alto (5-2) went on a 19-2 first-half run that turned a 10-6 deficit into a 25-12 lead. Yes, Paly had a 13-point lead late in the second quarter.
"We were really excited," Koyama said.
But Pinewood (9-2), which missed its first 13 field-goal attempts in the second quarter, finally got some shots to drop.
Hannah Jump made two 3-pointers and Klara Astrom made one in the final 2:18 of the second quarter to cut its halftime deficit to 25-21.
"We went from rags to riches when we hit those three 3s," Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said.
Koyama's 3-pointer put the Vikings up by eight at 36-28, but Pinewood closed the third quarter on a 6-0 run as Isabelle Chung and Jump knocked down 3-pointers to make the score 36-34 after three quarters.
It was an uncharacteristically bad shooting game for Pinewood, a team known for its remarkable marksmanship. Last season, the Panthers stunned the world of girls basketball by bombing in 16 3-pointers to win at St. Mary's of Stockton, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
But, on this occasion, the team's defensive pressure was the key element. Palo Alto, a team with only nine players, was visibly fatigued in the fourth quarter and managed only four points. Pinewood only scored eight, but it was enough to pull out a come-from-behind win.
"It was an ugly win," Scheppler said. "But I’ll take an ugly win over an ugly loss."
Carly Leong got up a 3-pointer under heavy pressure at the buzzer that missed.
Pinewood advances to play St. Francis, a 77-49 winner over North Salinas, for the tournament championship, Friday at 6:15 p.m.
Pinewood was not at full strength. Erin Poindexter-McHan, who made six 3-pointers in that historic win over St. Mary’s last season, suffered a torn ACL over the summer and looks to be out for her entire senior season.
Mikaela Topper, the West Bay Athletic League MVP last season, sat out the game after incurring a sprained ankle against Valley Christian last week.
But that didn't detract at all from the satisfaction Palo Alto felt after playing the Panthers tough. After all, Pinewood has a 60-point win over Westmoor and a 50-point win over Gunn already this season.
"I’m proud of my girls," Palo Alto coach Scott Peters said. "They gave everything they had. It was a good game, fun to be part of."
Leong scored 16 for Palo Alto as she and Koyama combined for 33 of the team's 40 points.
"They deserved to win," Scheppler said. "Too bad, it would've been a nice win."
Jump scored 12 on four 3-pointers for Pinewood. Brianna Claros scored 10 and Astrom had nine.
"This was one of those games that had loss written all over it," Scheppler said. "Hopefully we learned enough from this to fix our issues."
Menlo-Atherton (8-1) and Sacred Heart Prep (7-1) meet for the championship of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic competitive bracket 2 on Friday at 3 p.m. at Eastside College Prep.
The contest features former Stanford guards as opposing coaches. Markisha Coleman coaches the Bears and Melanie Murphy leads the Gators.
M-A beat Gunn, 63-41, to reach the title game. Sacred Heart Prep topped Berkeley, 60-46.
Greer Hoyem scored 21 points to lead M-A, with Carly McLanahan hitting five 3-pointers and finishing with 17 points. Ofa Sili added 13 points.
Chloe Gong made three 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 14 points. Archer Olson added 13 points and Tiazha Jackson had 10 for Gunn.
The Bears never trailed in the contest, using a smothering defense to limit the Titans.
Freshman Charlotte Levison led SH Prep with 24 points, which included an 8-of-10 effort from the foul line. Natalie Zimits added 12 points.
In the competitive bracket 1 of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Menlo School, the host Knights (7-2) scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to rally past Lincoln-SF, 71-70.
Menlo was led by Mohini Gupta, who had 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Menlo also got 14 points from both De'Jeane Stine and Sam Erisman.
Menlo defends its title in a 4:30 pm game Friday at Eastside Prep against Granada Hills.
Eastside Prep dropped a 73-35 decision to Mitty in the Elite bracket and will play Lincoln-Stockton for third place.
At the West Coast Jamboree Classic, Priory (7-4) knocked off Antelope, 58-46, to reach Friday's consolation championship game against Narbonne (5-3).
Ila Lane recorded a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds while Tatiana Reese added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Panthers.