Sports


Things could be more interesting in WBAL girls basketball

 
Pinewood's Una Jovanovich (25) should be ready to play soon. Courtni Thompson (20) and Annika Decker (30) also return for Pinewood. Photo by Jenna Hickey.

It’s a new era for the Pinewood girls basketball team. Hannah Jump and Klara Astrom have both moved on to college at Stanford and Yale, respectively.

The Panthers went 103-17 the last four years. Previous Pinewood teams have had comparable four-year records, but the Jump/Astrom teams did it playing against Open Division opposition, against the best girls teams in the state.


Courtni Thompson
The Pinewood teams they played on made three Northern California Open Division championship game appearances and won two, the last two. As a result the current Pinewood team goes into the season as the two-time defending NorCal Open Division champion, a stunning achievement for the small school in Los Altos Hills.

The Menlo School girls team took a big step up last year by winning the state Division II championship. And everyone on that team returns. So Pinewood’s run of dominance on top of the West Bay Athletic League standings could be challenged this year.

“Menlo will be gunning for us,’’ Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said.

There’s a wide gap to make up. Last year Pinewood won its two games with Menlo by scores of 75-36 and 74-47.

“They’re the team to shoot for,’’ Menlo coach John Paye said. “They always seem to replenish themselves with good players coming up.’’

Pinewood will indeed be counting on a number of new players this season, but Scheppler likes what he’s seen in practice.

“I don’t see a dropoff in athleticism,’’ Scheppler said. “We’ve got to shoot better.’’

There’s a question as to who will carry the scoring load with Jump and Astrom having departed. Annika Decker and Courtni Thompson are returning starters. They’ll be asked to look for their shots more than in the past, but as Scheppler put it, ‘’It hasn’t been easy, it’s not their natural personality type. Though I hate to make the comparison, it’s like Draymond Green being asked to score more because Steph and Klay are out.’’

Una Jovanovic started last season sharing point guard duties with Becker before suffering a torn ACL. She’s back now but not yet at full strength.

“She looks to score,’’ Scheppler said. “I don’t have to tell her to shoot.’’

Maia Garcia is a 6-foot-3 transfer from Santa Clara who provides an inside presence. She is eligible right away because she didn’t play basketball last year, instead concentrating on the high jump for the track and field team.

“She’s a willing learner and gives us someone to protect the rim,’’ Scheppler said.

Valentina Saric, a 6-foot sophomore, also provides some size along with a 3-point shooting touch. Two other transfers, Chance Bucher from Sacred Heart Prep and Gabrielle Harris from Homestead, will become eligible in January.

A couple of freshmen guards, Jade Ramirez and Chlea Facelo, are expected to contribute right away.

“They both have good skill sets, can handle the ball,’’ Scheppler said. “They are really good players who have been able to step into our team dynamics and contribute. We’ve got a slew of guards. They will be fun to watch, I think we’ll be a great basketball team, but there’s still a lot of room for growth.’’

For Menlo there are familiar names in key roles. Point guard Avery Lee led Menlo in scoring, assists and steals last year as a sophomore.

“She’s very even-tempered, the perfect mentality to be a point guard,’’ Paye said. ‘’Pass first, but she can also score.’’

Sharon Nejad, also a standout on the Menlo volleyball team, returns at center. She was the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder a year ago. Coco Layton came up big in the playoffs as a 3-point shooter on the wing.

Menlo has upgraded its schedule with non-league games against Mitty and Salesian.

“We’re working on getting defensive stops and boxing out bigger players,’’ Paye said Tuesday before heading off to practice.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Legends Pizza Co. replaces Palo Alto Pizza Co.
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 2,623 views

Premarital and Couples: 10 Tips for the Holidays
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,353 views

What is a "ton" of carbon dioxide anyway?
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 2,249 views

Do city officials ever consider giving taxpayers a break?
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 1,160 views

HIIT
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 976 views

 

The holidays are here!

From live music to a visit with Santa, here's a look at some local holiday activities to help you get into the spirit of the season.

VIEW