Sacred Heart Prep was playing its fourth game of the season Wednesday while Menlo-Atherton was playing its season opener. You might think the Gators, who were playing at home, would have an advantage. Especially considering the Bears were without as many as five players expected to play key roles who are still with the school’s football team as it prepares for the state playoffs.
But after a back-and-forth first half M-A took total control in the third quarter and ended up running away with a 66-47 victory.
“That was a good effort for our first game,’’ Menlo-Atherton coach Mike Molieri said. “We can score, we have some guys who can shoot the ball. This is one of my better shooting teams.’’
Sacred Heart Prep (1-3) led 18-12 after a 3-pointer by Harlan Banks early in the second quarter. But M-A rallied to take a 32-29 lead at halftime as Nick Tripladi, Will Beasley and Trevor Yargo all hit 3-pointers late in the quarter.
The Bears blew it open in the third quarter, getting their fastbreak going in high gear and outscoring SHP 23-10.
“Their defensive pressure was key,’’ Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli said. “Obviously M-A was short-handed, but they came out with a lot of intensity and desire and took the game away. I thought we shot it like we were the road team. We missed a lot of good open looks.’’
Molieri was particularly pleased with the play of 6-2 post player Heath Hooper, who scored a team-high 14 points. Beasley scored 13 and Tripaldi 11.
Before the game Molieri said he didn’t now how many of the current available players would still be playing a lot after the football players join the team, but that this was their chance to show him what they could do.
“They’re making it a challenge for me to make a decision after this game,’’ Molieri said. “Now I have a lot of confidence in the guys out there. Against our crosstown rivals they did a great job of dealing with their emotions.’’
Brendan Carney led Sacred Heart Prep with 15 points. Jai Deshpande, a 6-2 junior from Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, scored 13.
Both teams played a very up-tempo style. It’s the way Martinelli’s teams have traditionally played at Sacred Heart Prep, but on this occasion M-A played that style better.
“I do believe it’s a fun way to play,’’ Martinelli said. “But when you get out of control and throw it all over it’s not fun. Maybe we’ve got to pull it back a little.’’