Defense played a key role in Eastside Prep's 38-35 victory over host Menlo-Atherton in a nonleague girls basketball game Wednesday night between schools with winning traditions. At the same time, neither side could feel good about the offense.
Stick around, though, as both teams showed enough verve and spirit to suggest there are better days ahead.
In Eastside Prep's case, that means trying to replace Kayla Tahaafe, last year's heart and soul for the Panthers (3-2).
Even with four seniors on the court, there seems a bit of a void. Part of that is playing without an injured DeDe Franklin and part is the loss of a transfer.
"The seniors have to realize Kayla is no longer out there and they have to step up to be leaders," Blythe said. "They're getting there."
Zion Gabriel and Mina Tameilau are Eastside's most experienced players and both were active on defense against the Bears (2-3). Tameilau scored a team-high 10 points. Blythe hopes they can fill the leadership void.
"Everybody knows Zion can shoot the ball," Blythe said. "Now it's time to do other things."
Menlo-Atherton also has some big shoes to fill after losing seniors Greer Hoyem and Carly McLanahan, who helped the Bears dominate in the middle.
Junior Nell Fahey had seven rebounds to lead M-A. She's not as polished as last year's seniors just yet but she does a lot of things well.
Sophomore Malia Latu is another who appears to be on the verge of developing into a solid player. She led the Bears with 12 points.
Oron Estes and Erica Fischer are M-A's lone seniors and both showed a willingness to attack the basket. The Bears played hard and if a few shots found their mark, it might have been a different story.
The game was tied at 23 midway through the third quarter when Eastside's Jillian David hit back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Panthers the lead for good.
M-A rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit and pulled within 38-35 after freshman Alyssa Faberowski sank a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left.
The Bears had chances over the final 20 seconds but Eastside's pesky defensive pressure didn't allow much breathing room.
Blythe thinks Franklin could return as early as Friday, when the Panthers take on traditional powerhouse St. Mary's Stockton in the Elite Showcase at Laney College at 5:30 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton travels to Homestead for a nonleague at 7 p.m. Friday.
Pinewood 58, Cardinal Newman 56
Karla Astrom scored 16 points (on 7 of 12 shooting), had 10 rebounds and blocked three shots and Kaitlyn Leung scored 13 to help Pinewood rally from a fourth-quarter deficit and beat visiting Cardinal Newman, 58-56, in a nonleague game.
Una Jovanovic added eight points and five assists. Hannah Jump and Annika Decker each added eight points.
Pinewood (2-0) goes on the road to meet host Bishop O'Dowd at noon Saturday before leaving for the Iolani Classic in Hawaii next week.