Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 18, 2011

Paly, SHP boys all set for CCS playoffs

by Keith Peters

They have been on similar paths ever since their football teams captured Central Coast Section championships in the fall, even though one team had to wait a little longer for its football players to arrive after capturing a state title.

Both teams struggled a little in December, but have lost only once between them since then and are a combined 23-1 in league play heading into Friday night's regular-season finales.

Yes, the Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball teams are quite ready for the postseason — proving their readiness with similar lopsided victories to clinch their respective league titles on Tuesday night.

Palo Alto (10-1, 17-6) won its second straight SCVAL De Anza Division crown by racing past visiting Los Gatos, 85-42, for its sixth title in 10 years. Sacred Heart Prep (13-0, 21-2) captured its second consecutive West Bay Athletic League title with a 75-42 thumping of host Priory.

Both teams now can look ahead to the Central Coast Section playoffs, which begin next week. The CCS seeding meeting is this weekend. Both teams should get top-four seeds — Paly in Division II and SHP in Division IV — and receive byes into the quarterfinals — Division II at Foothill College and Division IV at Menlo School — on Feb. 26.

To reach their respective CCS finals and thus qualify for the CIF NorCal playoffs, both teams will have to continue banking on their talented starters, counting on their deep benches and continue taking advantage of their similar fast-paced offenses and pressing defenses.

Palo Alto first-year coach Adam Sax has one goal achieved after winning the De Anza Division and celebrating by cutting down the nets.

"That was definitely a team goal," Sax said of winning league. "It took some time to get the chemistry with the football team, but I feel like we're really coming together as a team. The guys are really starting to look for each other and are very unselfish."

Senior Davante Adams, for example, already has won league, CCS and state titles in football. He wasn't completely healthy until around Jan. 12. In the past two games, he has scored 42 points and dished out 24 assists. Tori Prati, T.J. Braff, and Bill Gray are other football players who have contributed to the basketball team's success.

Prati added 10 points in the win over Los Gatos while sophomore standout E.J. Floreal led all scorers with 21. Senior Max Schmarzo made five treys and finished with 15 points. His first trey gave Paly a 31-9 lead in the second quarter, finishing off a 17-0 run that pretty much finished off Los Gatos.

"This is what I expected it to be in December," Sax said.

Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli also had to wait for a handful of football after they captured the school's first-ever CCS title in the sport. Martinelli, however, got his additions earlier than Paly.

"Colin (Terndrup) was in great shape right from the start," Martinelli said. "I figure running for all of those yards in football kept his legs strong. His shot looked great, as well. Tomas (O'Donnell) and Duke Moran took awhile longer.

"Tomas started looking better once we got down to San Diego and then started his first game in the league opener, and has been strong ever since. Duke did not play due to injury his sophomore year so he was adjusting to the speed of varsity basketball, as well as learning the play book and defenses. Midway through the league season, he was up to speed."

O'Donnell had 12 points in the title-clinching win over Priory this week and Moran added seven, while senior Will McConnell led the way with 17. The Gators forced 22 turnovers and withstood the talents of Brandon Willhite (23 points) and Gabor Somogyi (15) for the easy win.

Elsewhere in the WBAL this week, second-place Pinewood (10-3, 18-5) suffered a 61-52 upset at the hands of host Harker (6-7, 14-9); Eastside Prep (1-12, 6-17) dropped a 54-30 decision to host King's Academy and Menlo School (7-6, 11-12) got 17 points from Jonny Halprin in a 51-37 win over Crystal Springs.

In the Private Schools Athletic League playoffs, Lydell Cardwell tossed in 34 points as Mid-Peninsula (18-2) registered a 71-52 victory over St. Lawrence in the semifinals. The Dragons went after the playoff crown on Thursday night against Mountain View Academy.

Girls' basketball

Palo Alto already has locked up the SCVAL De Anza Division title and a high seed in next week's CCS Division I playoffs, but there is still something the Vikings can accomplish in their regular-season finale on Friday at Lynbrook at 6:15 p.m.

No Paly girls' team in the past 25 years has gone undefeated in league play. The current Vikings (11-0, 18-4) can be the first with one more victory.

The 1986 and '87 squads both won league titles with 11-1 records and the 2006 team, the last Paly squad to win a division crown, also went 11-1.

The Vikings moved closer to that perfect season with a solid 58-37 victory over third-place Los Gatos on Wednesday. Paly got contributions from all four seniors on Senior Night as Katerina Peterson, Sydney Davis, Mary Albertolle and Mariah Philips combined for 25 points and helped limit the Wildcats (7-4, 16-7) to just 18 points in the second half.

Juniors Lindsay Black (13 points) and Emilee Osagiede (eight) joined with sophomore Stephanie Allen in another strong defensive effort for coach Scott Peters.

The Vikings clinched the division crown last Friday with a 39-33 win over host Gunn, knocking the Titans (8-3, 16-5) three games off the pace at the time.

Osagiede was the standout as she scored 17 points, putting her team in the lead for good with a basket with under two minutes to play in addition to hitting nine of 10 free throws.

The West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) concluded last week with Pinewood (9-1, 19-5) and Eastside Prep (9-1, 18-6) again sharing the crown. The WBAL playoff semifinals will be Friday night at Menlo School with Pinewood taking on the Castilleja-Menlo winner at 5:30 p.m., followed by Eastside against the Sacred Heart Prep/Mercy-San Francisco winner at 7 p.m. The playoff championship will be Saturday at 3 p.m., also at Menlo.

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