Bears stage a comeback to earn PAL boys basketball win

Nick Tripaldi made a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

It’s one thing to swish a 3-pointer during practice or at the start of a game when your legs are fresh. It’s another thing to knock one down at the end of the game, during crunch time, after fatigue has set in.

Nick Tripaldi was dead center with his shot in the late going Friday night during Menlo-Atherton’s battle with Carlmont. And that was a good thing for the Bears, who came back from an 11-point deficit for a 65-62 victory in a Peninsula Athletic League South Division showdown at M-A.

Justin Anderson/Bob Dahlberg.
Tripaldi hit two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. He was asked how much he practices his shot in order to get it to fall with the game on the line.

“Every day since I was a little kid,’’ the 6-foot senior said. “I do the same thing every day, warm up, get a rebounder and just try to get in a rhythm.’’

M-A coach Mike Molieri also chose rhythm as a word to characterize Tripladi’s stroke.

“He was in rhythm,’’ Molieri said. “He felt it. We put it on his shoulders.’’

Carlmont, which went 11-15 a year ago, is enjoying a big-time turnaround season and went into the M-A game with 12 wins in its first 14 games. The Scots came out blazing in the first quarter, shooting 8 of 12 and leading 23-12 at the end of the quarter. M-A was up 9-7 before Carlmont went on an 11-0 run. And it was an uphill struggle for the Bears the rest of the way.

“We want to outscore teams and not commit to the defensive end,’’ Molieri said. “This is the challenge for this team, committing to the defensive end. It worked out today but it’s going to cause problems down the road.’’

Carlmont cooled off in the second quarter and its lead was reduced to 34-31 at halftime. The Bears took a 51-49 lead after three quarters, setting the stage for a back-and-forth fourth quarter in which there were 10 lead changes.

A fastbreak basket by Justin Anderson off a pass from Tripaldi put M-A up 57-56 with 4:05 left. Lajuan Nelson’s 3-pointer put Carlmont on top 59-57 before Tripladi’s 3-pointer made it 60-59 in M-A’s favor with 1:35 to go.

Jake Kennedy, who led all scorers with 19 points, made two free throws as Carlmont went up 61-60. Will Beasley’s foul shot tied it and one by Nelson gave the Scots their last lead, 62-61 with 46 seconds left.

Heath Hooper, the team’s 6-2 starting center, came up with a huge offensive rebound and was fouled on the putback. Hooper stepped to the line and calmly sank both foul shots to make the score 63-62 with 27 seconds to go. Carlmont missed a shot, Tripaldi rebounded and passed to Beasley, who was all alone on an early release for a layup and the game’s final points.

“We got a couple of good defensive stops to win the game at the end.’’ Molieri said. “The positive thing with this team is the way it fights back and wins close games.’’

James Beckwith scored 13 and Hooper 12 for M-A (10-3, 3-0). Nelson scored 14 while Sammy Bean and David Bedrosian had 11 apiece for Carlmont (12-3, 2-1).

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