Scoring 97 points in a 32-minute game says all you need to know about the high level of offensive execution the Pinewood girls basketball team is capable of.
For the No. 2 seed Panthers to do so in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs with a 97-61 win over Palo Alto -- by definition one of the eight best teams in the section -- makes the feat all the more noteworthy.
Pinewood (15-0) advances to play No. 3 St. Ignatius on Wednesday in the Open Division semifinals.
The Panthers shot 52 percent for the game (37 of 71). They were a sizzling 17 of 31 from 3-point range.
And of course a big reason for the high-scoring output was the play of Palo Alto, which didn’t back off and try to slow down the game’s tempo, but went right back at Pinewood, fastbreak for fastbreak, 3-point shot for 3-point shot.
“I really like Paly’s team,’’ Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said. “They’re hard to guard and play their hearts out. We had to shoot well to win. We’re a real good defensive team and they made us look bad.’’
Elle Ladine, a transfer from Lowell who had a slow start to the season due to an injury, had her best game as a Panther with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“Elle is just a baller, a big athlete who wants the ball,’ Scheppler said. “She’s trying real hard to fit in, maybe too hard. I just want Elle to be Elle.’’
Una Jovanovic scored 15, Emily Lee 14 and point guard Annika Decker had one of her best games with 11 points, 10 assists and four steals.
Annika Shah scored 26 points for Palo Alto (14-6). Carly Martin added 13.
“Someone asked me why I didn’t try to slow it down,’’ Palo Alto coach Scott Peters said. “If I did I wouldn't be showing confidence in my team. What does it matter if you lose by 40 or lose by 20? I thought we had a great season. The girls have gotten better, beginning to end. This was a good game for some of our younger players to experience.’’
Pinewood was on fire right from the opening tipoff. But Paly also landed some punches in the first half which ended with Pinewood up 46-33. Pinewood put the game away with a 17-2 run to start the third quarter.
“I’m happy how hard we played,’’ Peters said. “We lost the game but we weren’t defeated. The team played hard to the end and I’m proud of them.’’
Priory 53, Valley Christian 46
No. 5 seed Priory dominated the first three quarters and took a 42-29 lead into the fourth quarter only to see No. 4 Valley Christian come roaring back and take a 46-45 lead.
Aniyah Augmon made two free throws with 38 seconds left to put Priory back on top. Sydney Donovan made a pass to Bineta Diatta for a basket on a pick and roll, Augmon and Diatta made their free throws and the Panthers pulled out the road win.
“After playing tough games against Menlo, against Paly, against Pinewood, being battle tested really helped us,’’ Priory coach Buck Matthews said.
Priory (10-3) will have its hands full in Wednesday’s semifinals against No. 1 seed Mitty, an 80-29 winner over Capuchino.
“Tonight we’ll enjoy the first Open Division win in school history,’’ said Matthews, who played his five starters the entire game. “The girls can enjoy graduation tomorrow. We’ll start looking at film on Mitty Sunday.’’
Augmon led Priory with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Valentina Saric scored 13 points, making 3 of 6 shots from 3-point range. Donovan scored 12 points while Diatta had seven points and 11 rebounds.’’
St. Ignatius 49, Menlo School 42
No. 6 seed Menlo rallied from a three-point deficit at halftime to take a 35-32 lead after three quarters before No. 3 seed St. Ignatius took charge in the fourth quarter and pulled away for the win.
“They were a little bigger than us, a little deeper,’’ Menlo coach John Paye said. “They beat us to balls in the fourth quarter. Our shots weren’t falling and they made a couple big 3s. Our legs were shot.’’
Avery Lee led Menlo (4-5) with 19 points and four assists. Coco Layton scored 11 points and Sharon Nejad had 10 to go with 14 rebounds.
“It was like a football season, only nine games,’’ said Paye, the former Stanford and 49ers quarterback. “Very disjointed, we never got a rhythm. But I’m just thankful we got to play. It was a great run for my seniors, Avery, Coco and Danielle McNair. They were the first to put four banners on the wall, being selected for the Open four straight years.’’
"This season has meant so much especially to the seniors," said Lee, who finished her high school career with 1,419 points. "Playing with everyone this past season has been so special. Even though it didn't end the way we wanted, just taking it all in and getting to feel the joy. I'm so grateful for these past four years; it's better than I could ever imagine. I can't say enough about everyone - the coaches, the players, the fans - everyone around the program."