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March 03, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Palo Alto girls achieve a hoop milestone Palo Alto girls achieve a hoop milestone (March 03, 2004)by reaching CCS semifinals for first time

by Keith Peters

If the Palo Alto girls' basketball team isn't playing in the Central Coast Division Division II championship game Friday, it doesn't diminish the season the Vikings have enjoyed.

Just reaching Tuesday night's semifinal against top-seeded Mitty (24-4) is a triumph in itself for the No. 5 Vikings (23-6). No Paly girls' team ever advanced to the section semifinals before this season.

It was a logical step, perhaps, given the history of current Paly seniors Savannah Hayes, Nora Morrison, Jackie Schiessler, Sara Schulte, Jossy Tseng and Katelyn Gravelle.

As freshmen, they went 26-0 under current varsity coach Amy Stock. As sophomores, most contributed to the Vikings' 23-5 season (best in school history) and CCS appearance that ended in the first round.

As juniors, the Vikings went 20-7 and fell in the second round of CCS. This season, the seniors took the logical step forward and reached the quarterfinals for the first time since a third-round loss in 1998. There, they helped produce a 62-42 thumping of No. 4 Leland last Saturday at Mt. Pleasant High in San Jose.

That's 92-18 over four years, the best four-year aggregate in school history. Prior to this current group of seniors, no Paly girls' team in the past decade ever put together four straight winning seasons. Moreover, this is the first senior class to produce three straight titles in the SCVAL De Anza Division. The only blemish is having to share this season's crown with Saratoga and Homestead, both of whom were eliminated from CCS play last weekend.

Beating Mitty, of course, was a tall order Tuesday night. Then again, the Vikings might have been considered underdogs against Blossom Valley Athletic League (Mt. Hamilton Division) Leland. Paly, however, stuck to its game plan of denying the Chargers' post players and playing tough defensively on the perimeter.

"They executed our game plan perfectly," Stock said of her players. "Our defense caused them to take outside shots, shots they don't like to take."

Paly's trio of post defenders - Hayes, Schulte and Tseng - limited Leland's two key players to a combined 16 points while combining for 33 points themselves. Schulte added seven assists while Tseng had 10 rebounds and six assists. Sophomore Bre Clay and Hayes were the recipients of most of those passes. Clay scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the first quarter while Hayes tallied eight of her 12 points in the fourth quarter when the Vikings scored all 18 of their points on transition layins or follow shots.

The Paly-Mitty winner will advance to Friday's championship game against the Aragon-Westmoor winner at the San Jose State Event Center at 5:30 p.m.

In the girls' Division V quarterfinals, Eastside Prep advanced with a 68-36 romp over Valley Christian-Dublin while Castilleja moved on following a 43-31 win over Redwood Christian. Freshman Torey Walker led Eastside Prep with 22 points and eight steals while junior Brijitti Crum (16 points) and senior Chantelle Brown (13) contributed to the Panthers' 12th win in the past 13 games.

Mika Peterman (15 points) and fellow junior Nikki Perlman (13 points, eight rebounds) led Castilleja while senior Rachel Dwan added eight points and some solid defense for the Gators.

In boys' Division V, top-seeded and defending champion Eastside Prep (25-1) reached the semifinals with a 79-34 rout of Fremont Christian. Keith Garner led the Panthers with 22 points and 16 rebounds while Stephen Waller added five points and 10 rebounds.

Sacred Heart Prep got 20 points from senior Tyler Holland in a 64-32 win over North Valley Baptist while Mid-Peninsula reached the 20-win plateau for the first time in school history as seniors Da'Ron Maxie and Jason Stergion plus junior Walter Washington combined for 33 points in a 46-45 win over The King's Academy.

In boys' Division I, No. 4-seeded Menlo-Atherton (22-6) fell to No. 5 San Benito, 58-52 in quarterfinal action at Santa Clara High on Saturday. In boys' Division II, second-seeded Palo Alto (25-4) was eliminated following a 53-52 overtime loss to No. 10 North Salinas. Junior Dan Trautman led M-A with 14 points while junior Brian Baskauskas paced Paly with 19.

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