Palo Alto girls basketball coach Scott Peters was encouraged by his team’s performance Saturday in a 50-45 loss at Pinewood.
“We played well, we played hard,’’ Peters said. “We got a chance to work on our man defense against Pinewood, which runs great man offense. We also got a chance to go against a lot of pressure defense that Pinewood plays. A lot of good things came from this game, I’ve got to be happy with that. A positive step.’’
The winning coach, Pinewood’s Doc Scheppler, had quite a different outlook.
“The worst defensive performance in the history of Pinewood basketball,’’ Scheppler said. “Our energy level going into the game was not great while Palo Alto’s motivation was high. We just sleepwalked. A day late and a dollar short.’’
Palo Alto (14-6) had a 35-32 lead with a minute left in the third quarter before Pinewood (19-2) went on a 13-0 run and seized apparent control.
The Vikings had one more push left and drew to within 48-45. But after a timeout with 8.2 seconds left Paly turned the ball over and Annika Decker sank two free throws to clinch the win for Pinewood, the two-time defending NorCal Open champions.
“We had some breakdowns with fatigue setting in,’’ Peters said. “We had a shot, down three and our ball. I guess I didn’t call a good enough play.’’
Decker scored a game-high 17 points and Maia Garcia added 16 for Pinewood. Palo Alto didn’t have anyone in double figures.
Both teams have important games coming up on Tuesday. Pinewood (7-1 in West Bay Athletic League Foothill Division play) hosts second-place Sacred Heart Prep (6-2) at 6 p.m. Scheppler said he expects defensive standout Courtni Thompson to return for that game. Thompson has sat out the last two games after being placed in the concussion protocol.
Palo Alto plays at Lynbrook at 7 p.m. The two teams are tied for first place in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division with records of 8-1. Paly won the first meeting, 37-36 on Jan. 21.
“We’re excited we get to play for first place late in the season,’’ Peters said. “It’s a great opportunity for us.’’