The Palo Alto fifth- and sixth-grade girls National Junior Basketball team may not be ready for the WNBA quite yet but as far as their coach Hamadah Sharif is concerned they are All-Americans, every single one of them.
Palo Alto represented itself, the city and the North Silicon Valley Section extremely well, winning their division of the Mikasa/All Net National Tournament on Sunday, beating Hanford, 42-24, in the championship game at MAP Sports Facility in Garden Grove.
Palo Alto (5-0) excelled on both ends of court, scoring an average of 48.8 points over five games while allowing an average of 18.
Palo Alto won its pool with a 69-10 victory over Capo Dana and a 64-15 win over Walnut, setting up a quarterfinal match with Foothill.
Palo Alto took care of Foothill, 36-17, and then played its toughest game of the tournament, a 33-24 win over West San Jose that was anything but easy.
Palo Alto faced a 10-point halftime deficit at 22-12. That's when the defense clamped down, allowing two points the rest of the way, and the offense to heat up with 21 points and the win that sent Palo Alto into the title contest.
The team members are Val Kuelker, Beverly Lamis, Katherine Garr, Violet Tivol, Kavya Gottipatti, Vienn Sheng, Clara Carraggee, Natalie Neumann, Annette Tong and Emily Mulkey.
Sharif is the girls basketball coach at Gunn High.
Former Garden Grove High coach Dennis Murphy, Jr. founded National Junior Basketball as a nonprofit organization in 1984. His vision was to start a youth basketball league based on sportsmanship and player development.
The organization has grown to include 20,000 participants across six states.