by Dean Kahl
Even though it is one of a trio of outstanding girls prep basketball teams in the city of Atherton, Menlo-Atherton High coach Pam Wimberly said that her team had something to prove. After all, one publication had M-A picked to finish in fourth place in the Peninsula Athletic League this season. That didn't sit well with Wimberly.
Apparently, back-to-back Central Coast Section Division II titles and excellence in the PAL during the past 10 years did not earn the type of respect that Wimberly had hoped.
Either way, everyone is finding out that the route to the PAL title takes a serious detour at Middlefield Road and Ringwood.
M-A impressed last Thursday and Friday, beating Burlingame, 64-52, and then stomping on Carlmont, 52-23, less than 24 hours later.
The wins gave M-A an 8-0 record in the PAL and an overall mark of 12-5 heading into Friday's game at home against Woodside.
"I found out just how bad they wanted it," Wimberly said, obviously pleased.
Then again, it was a key reserve player--Alicia Brown--who pointed out Wimberly's philosophy moments before the Carlmont game.
"She (Wimberly) said, 'I know what you're going to say--Burlingame is behind us,' " Brown said. "We knew that Carlmont was going to slow it down. We had to play our game."
"The players are listening, though," Wimberly said. "They're jelling. No one's worried about who's scoring the points. And, the players on the bench aren't worried about when they'll play. We're counting on everyone."
M-A has a way of taking over when pushed. Leading by a 37-34 score in the third quarter against Burlingame (7-1, 9-6), M-A went on a 15-1 scoring run during the next five minutes to assume a 52-35 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The quickness of LaWanda Moorer and Lois Harris was a plus, but Jamie McCarthy and Shanice Johnson were valuable on the defensive end. That quartet was all over the floor.
The decisive spurt was capped when Harris stole an inbounds pass, fumbled with the ball at her feet, then recovered and sank a four-foot fallaway.
Moorer finished with 25 points, Johnson had 14 and Brown scored 12.
Harris is a sparkplug, but Wimberly knows the value of the quiet, smooth play of Moorer and the leadership of McCarthy.
"She (Moorer) is so versatile. She's played four positions for us," Wimberly said. "And, Jamie is a calming force out there with the wild bunch."
Against Carlmont (5-3, 11-4), M-A led by only a 21-17 score at halftime, but the Bears held the Scots to six points in the second half. Harris led the Bears with 15 points while Moorer and Johnson had 12 each.
Two of Wimberly's primary concerns going into the season were rebounding and free-throw shooting. The five starters who the Bears put on the court stand 5-foot-10, 5-6, 5-6, 5-3 and 5-3. Quickness has made up for that and Wimberly likes the way her players have worked harder for rebounding position.
Although M-A sank only five of 14 foul shots against Carlmont, the Bears were 15 of 21 from the line against Burlingame. Free-throw shooting will be a key in those crucial playoff games in late February.
M-A's most recent loss was to Monta Vista (12-0), although the Bears led by a point at halftime. They feel as though they can play with any team.
Speaking of Monta Vista, that's one of the next tests ahead for Sacred Heart (17-0), which stretched its win streak to 54 with a 61-44 win over Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland last Saturday. Junior center Jenny Circle had 26 points and senior guard Alexis Felts scored 19.
One night earlier in an 84-30 win over Mercy of Burlingame, junior forward Kobie Kennon had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Felts had 19 points and Circle scored 16.
Sacred Heart plays at St. Ignatius on Thursday and then has a rematch (at home) against rival Menlo School next Tuesday.
On the other hand, Menlo School (2-1, 14-2) made a strong point in the Girls Private School League last Friday with a 65-42 victory at St. Ignatius. S.I. entered the game with a 16-0 record, but Menlo provided balance with senior guard Cheryl Malcolm (17 points), junior center Heather Crary (12 points), sophomore guard Roz Lopez (11 points) and freshman forward Heather Green (four points, 12 rebounds).
In the SCVAL's El Camino Division, Paly (2-2, 7-8) evened its record with another close game, this time edging Homestead, 39-38, last Thursday.
Rachel Ching and Sarah Whitney each had 12 points for Paly, which plays at Saratoga on Thursday night.
In the SCVAL's De Anza Division, Gunn (1-3, 5-8) was not as fortunate in a 70-40 loss at home to Monta Vista. Amy Lu had 10 points for the Titans, who host Los Gatos on Thursday.
Paly (2-2, 4-3-1) pulled a mild upset when a second-half goal by Sarah Feinberg--off an assist from Jocelyn Ludwick--led to a 1-0 victory over defending SCVAL champ Los Altos.
Rachel Feinberg and Karen Ben-Dor provided quality defense to complement goalkeeper Karlie McGinn and stave off the high-scoring Eagles.
"This is the first time that we've beaten them in the three years I've been here, so it feels pretty good," Paly coach David Jesse said. "Our team has improved since last year. Our players were fired up and going to the ball."
Paly plays at Gunn today, then hosts Los Gatos on Friday.
Gunn, on the other hand, was served a 4-0 defeat last Friday by Homestead (2-0-2), the two-time defending CCS Division I champion. Gunn is at St. Francis on Friday.
In the PAL, M-A (2-0-3) remained unbeaten, but a 0-0 tie at home against Sequoia (1-3-1) was a letdown.
In the GPSL, a penalty-kick goal by Hillary Haruff was the difference as Menlo School (4-1, 5-2-3) beat Mercy of Burlingame, 1-0. Menlo is in second place behind St. Ignatius (6-0).
Sacred Heart improved to 3-1 following a 5-0 victory over Mercy of San Francisco.
Back up to the Table of Contents Page