The Palo Alto boys basketball team was up for its showdown game Friday with Los Altos and turned in its best performance of the season in a 64-52 victory.
The win puts Palo Alto (14-4, 6-0) in first place all alone in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division standings.
Los Altos (16-2, 5-1) suffered just its second loss of the season in a game Paly dominated throughout on the loser’s court.
“We really came out and gave it our all,’’ Aidan Rausch said.
Rausch scored 13 points and was one of four Palo Alto players in double figures. Matthew Marzano scored 18, Jamir Shepard 15 and Ryan Purpur 14.
Rausch hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help Paly establish a 35-26 lead at halftime.
“That felt real good,’’ he said. “It wasn’t that I was looking for my shot. It was about reading the defense and playing as a team.’’
Palo Alto has struggled at times offensively this season, but not on this occasion with first place on the line. The Vikings were 13 of 24 in the first half and finished at 48 percent for the game (21 of 44). They made six 3-pointers and were 16 of 19 at the foul line.
“We were executing our set plays much better,’’ Palo Alto coach Jeff LaMere said. “Jamir really helped run our offense. He’s a very good passer and was hitting the roll man on our screen and rolls.’’
Paly built its biggest lead at 53-36 early in the fourth quarter and withstood a Los Altos rally that cut the lead to seven at 57-50. That’s when Marzano made the play of the game with a steal and basket. He added two free throws shortly after to boost the lead back up to 11, and that was all she wrote.
“He made plays on both sides of the court,’’ LaMere said. “We give him the assignment of guarding the other team’s best player.’’
It was a relief to have some 3-pointers hitting the mark after making zero 3s in a win over Milpitas on Wednesday. Shepard, Marzano and Purpur each hit one to go along with Rausch’s three.
“We bought a new shooting machine and have really been taking a lot of shots in practice,’’ said Purpur, the team’s tallest player at 6-6.
The Vikings have now won seven in a row.
“We’ve taken some lumps but we’ve learned from it,’’ LaMere said. “We’re making progress.’’
Confidence is growing among the players.”
“This game shows we can really play,’’ Purpur said.