Menlo-Atherton coach Mike Molieri had his team ready and raring to go Wednesday for its Peninsula Athletic League South Division opener.
Unleashing a ferocious full-court press that gave host Hillsdale all sorts of problems, the Bears roared to a 19-4 lead after one quarter and extended their lead to 23 late in the second quarter.
M-A (7-4, 1-0) went on to a 57-32 victory.
"We're the two-time defending PAL South champions,'' Molieri said. "Everyone we play will be coming after us. But we wanted to make a statement.''
Hillsdale came in with an 11-1 non-league record, but had played a relatively weak schedule. It was obvious early the Knights hadn't played a team with M-A's defensive intensity. Hillsdale shot 3 of 17 in the first half with 13 turnovers and made only eight field goals for the game.
"I challenged the guys right off the bat,'' Molieri said. "I told them these guys are 11-1 and looking forward to playing us. We have to notch it up on defense. Our young guys played with a lot of energy. That first quarter was a clinic on defense. Now we have to do that consistently.''
With two-time PAL South MVP Eric Norton having graduated, the Bears have no stars but a lot of depth. Molieri's approach is to demand maximum effort from those on the court and to quickly insert reinforcements with fresh legs.
"We're not about individuals, we're about the team,'' Molieri said. "Our ultimate goal is a championship.''
Will Beasley led M-A with 15 points. James Beckwith scored 14.
Molieri said Sequoia should be considered the favorite to win the PAL South title.
"Sequoia is the team to beat,'' Molieri said. "They have the best player in the league (Ziggy Lauese) and four of their top six back from last season. But we're the defending champs.''
Palo Alto, the defending SCVAL champion, took care of visiting Los Altos, 64-27 Wednesday in winning its eighth straight.
Spencer Rojahn led all scorers with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, had a game-high six steals, and blocked a pair of shots.
Rojahn scored eight of his points in the first quarter and grabbed six of his rebounds in the first half. Matthew Marzano matched Rojahn in the fourth quarter, with each scoring six.
Senior Max Dorward scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out a game-high five assists.
The Vikings (10-2, 2-0) travels to Wilcox for a 7:45 p.m. contest Friday.
Greer Hoyem scored 20 points to help Menlo-Atherton open PAL play with a 64-33 victory over visiting Hillsdale on Wednesday.
Following a balanced scoring attack from both teams early, the Bears (7-5, 1-0) began pulling away as five different M-A shooters hit a 3-pointer during the first quarter.
Carly McLanahan, who scored 11 points, was joined by Catherine Chai, Emilie Mueller, Oron Estes and Ericka Fischer, all hitting long-range baskets.
Freshman Nikki Yeh converted an old-fashioned three-point play for her first points of the season. The Bears play at Carlmont on Friday, with tipoff scheduled for 6:15 p.m.
Walter Levander scored twice and that's all Palo Alto needed to get past visiting Los Altos, 2-0, on Wednesday in a SCVAL De Anza Division contest.
The victory gave the Vikings (7-1-1, 2-0) a leg up on the Eagles (5-2-2, 2-1), who dropped their first league game.
Palo Alto travels to Santa Clara (5-5, 2-1) for a 3:30 p.m. match Friday. Los Gatos is also 2-0 and has won six straight.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Menlo School extended its win streak to five, beating host The King's Academy 4-0 Wednesday.
"We had mixed preseason results as we integrated new players and adopted a more technical style of play amid a difficult schedule," Menlo coach Marc Kerrest said.
The Knights have outscored their opponents, 21-1, during their current winning streak.
"They have made their impressive defensive work rate part of their identity and set out each game intent on outworking their opponent," Kerrest said. "The hard work has allowed their technical skill to shine through and the resulting performances have been fun to watch."
Marc Velten-Lomelin scored twice, Billy Hamilton added a goal and an assist and junior Sal Argueta added a goal while junior Ben Lasky contributed two assists. Junior Santy Mendoza earned his second shutout in a row.
The Knights opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Lasky slipped a ball behind the TKA backline for Velten-Lomelin to run onto and he calmly scored into the side netting.
Velten-Lomelin doubled the lead three minutes later off a good cross from sophomore Kripa Dharan. Hamilton made it 3-0 in the 30th minute off another assist by Lasky. Argueta completed the scoring a few minutes from time on good passing by Lasky and assist by Hamilton.
Mendoza earned his second consecutive clean sheet in goal with help from his defenders junior Max Colowick, Dharan, senior captain David Quezada, sophomore Andres Simbeck and senior Sebastian Abadi.
Emily Tomz was one of four players to score as Palo Alto defeated host Los Altos, 4-2, in a SCVAL De Anza Division contest Tuesday.
Bella Bonomi, Frida Rivera and Summer Daniels also scored for the Vikings (6-2, 2-0), who host Santa Clara (4-2-1, 0-1) at 3:30 p.m. Friday.