Girls hoops: Eastside turns it around in second half

Menlo's Mallory North looks to get the ball past Eastside's Kayla Mahan. Photo by Pm McKenney/Menlo Athletics.

Eastside Prep trailed by 11 in the first half but ended up winning by 12 in a West Bay Athletic League girls basketball game Tuesday at Menlo. It was a two-point game going into the fourth quarter when Eastside outscored Menlo 18-8 to pull away to the 67-55 victory.

“We turned the ball over late,’’ Menlo coach John Paye said. “Their defensive pressure was a big factor. Eastside just keeps coming at you. They crank it up to a higher level then to a higher level after that.’’

Menlo (15-7, 3-6) was the team with more energy at the start of the game, determined to turn in a better showing than in a 21-point loss at Eastside the first time the two teams met. With Maiea Makoni hitting three shots in a row Menlo jumped to a 16-7 lead.

Eastside (18-5, 7-2) pulled to within 16-13 on a pair of free throws by Kayla Tahaafe at the beginning of the second quarter, but Menlo scored the next eight points -- on a basket by Makoni and two 3-pointers by Mallory North -- to open its biggest lead of the game at 24-13.

Eastside went on an 11-0 run to pull even and trailed by one at the half, 30-29.

Eastside coach Donovan Blythe gave his team a talking-to at halftime.

“Sometimes when you know you’ve clinched a spot in league and people start to talk about going to the Open you lose focus,’’ Blythe said. “These are young kids. At halftime I told them either take care of business the next 15 minutes or go back to practice.’’

It was a different Eastside team in the second half. Menlo stayed within contact in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter was another story.

“I told them you’ve got to be consistent,’’ Blythe said. “You’ve got to play that way for 32 minutes, creating turnovers and using your quickness on defense, I felt I wasn’t doing a good job. I’d given them a couple days off from practice.’’

Tahaafe led all scorers with 22 points, going 10 of 12 from the foul line. Mina Tameilau scored 13 and freshman Marley Langi had 11.

North scored 14, Ally Stuart 12 and Makoni 11 for Menlo, which went 12-1 in non-league play, including a win over St. Ignatius, before going 3-6 in WBAL Foothill Division play.

The Knights are in a three-way tie for third place with Priory and Sacred Heart Prep in the six-team division.

“This is a great league for us, every game is competitive,’’ Paye said. “Obviously it makes you battle tested for the playoffs.’’

While Eastside appears to be headed to the elite Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, the Knights are headed back to Division IV, where they are the top-ranked team in the CCS by MaxPreps.

They were the No. 1 seed in last year’s CCS Division IV playoffs, but got upset in the semifinals by Half Moon Bay.

“We’re going into the playoffs with a chip on our shoulder this year,’’ Paye said.

Also in WBAL action, Denise Stine scored 17 points, one of three players to reach double figures in scoring and Sacred Heart Prep beat visiting Priory 60-37.

Charlotte Levison added 14 points and senior Tatum Angotti had 10 for the Gators (10-12, 3-6), who play at Eastside Prep at 6 p.m. Friday.

Ila Lane scored 17 points to lead Priory (10-12, 3-6), which travels to Pinewood for a 6 p.m. league game on Thursday.

Pinewood (22-1, 9-0) defeated host Notre Dame-Belmont 57-38 for its 18th straight win and 45th consecutive win in league play.

Junior Kaitlyn Leung scored a career-high 17 points (on 7-of-13 shooting) and grabbed a season-best six rebounds to lead a balanced attack for the Panthers.

Junior Hannah Jump scored 14 and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Klara Astrom added 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and six steals.

Sammy Wong scored 22 points, two shy of her season-best, to lead Castilleja past host Crystal Springs 54-23 in a WBAL Skyline Division game.

Castilleja hosts Mercy-San Francisco at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Gators finish the regular season at Notre Dame-San Jose on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Niki Chen added 15 points for the Gators (10-12, 6-4), who have won two straight and four of five overall.

Menlo-Atherton secured the top seed for the Peninsula Athletic League Tournament that begins Thursday with a convincing 69-30 victory over host Burlingame in a regular season finale.

The Bears (17-7, 11-1) finished in a first-place tie with Aragon and beat the Dons (20-4, 11-1) in head-to-head competition.

Menlo-Atherton will host El Camino (15-9, 6-6) in the first round.

The Bears clawed their way to a 26-3 first-quarter lead. They held the Panthers scoreless until the final minute of the period.

M-A made it 47-13 at halftime.

Seniors Carly McLanahan and Greer Hoyem shared high-point honors, each with 18. Erica Fischer and Catherine Chai combined for another 17 points.

Senior Chloe Gong scored 17 points and had a pair of assists in Gunn's 65-30 loss to visiting Wilcox.

Palo Alto had its nine-game wining streak snapped by host Mountain View 53-47. The Vikings (16-6, 10-1) had already clinched the SCVAL De Anza Division title.

Paly hosts Cupertino for the regular season finale at 6:15 p.m. Friday.

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