Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - January 17, 2014

There's a logjam atop boys' WBAL hoops race

Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo and Pinewood all share the lead; Pinewood, Eastside Prep girls close in on their showdown

by Keith Peters

The boys' basketball race in the West Bay Athletic looks a little different than it did a year ago after the first three games of the season. For Menlo School, Sacred Heart Prep and Pinewood, that's a good thing.

Last season, the Knights and Gators opened 2-1 while the Panthers were 0-3. Following Tuesday night's games, all three squads are 3-0.

That's going to to change quickly as Sacred Heart Prep visits Pinewood on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Menlo, meanwhile, is at Priory and thus should remain atop the standings with the SHP-Pinewood winner.

Next Tuesday, however, Menlo will visit Sacred Heart Prep (7:30 p.m.) in the first of two showdowns and, quite possible, for sole possession of first place.

Menlo won its third straight, all in the WBAL, and remained tied for first place following a 52-26 dismantling of visiting Eastside Prep on Tuesday night. The Knights (3-0, 4-9) had the luxury of resting injured starters Ryan Young and Alex Grossman, but still had enough offense as Liam Dunn (12 points) and Charlie Roth (11) led the way. The Panthers (1-1, 7-3) got to within 22-16 in the second quarter before the Knights went on a 7-0 run to grab a 29-16 halftime lead. Eastside Prep was held to just two points in the third quarter as Menlo pulled away.

In Sunnyvale, Kyle Murphy and Ryan Brice each tallied 14 points as Pinewood (3-0, 11-2) also remained tied for first place with a 60-49 victory over host King's Academy on Tuesday night. The Panthers made 13 3-pointers, with Murphy nailing four.

In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep (3-0, 7-4) had little trouble with visiting Priory while posting a 53-27 triumph. Sophomore Connor Moses, who made the team after being brought up from the JV squad to provide some depth in the preseason, had a season-high 12 points to pace the Gators. Junior Corbin Koch, who scored 64 points in three wins last week, added 11. SHP pulled away with a 32-11 first half.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto suffered its first league loss of season, 68-60, to host Los Altos. Noah Phillips led the Vikings (2-1, 7-7) with 17 points while Kevin Mullin added 15.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn (1-2, 9-5) dropped a 73-58 decision to host Santa Clara despite 19 points from Chris Russell.

Girls basketball

Pinewood sophomore Chloe Eackles produced 14 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists to power the Panthers to an 80-34 romp over host Notre Dame-San Jose in a WBAL Foothill Division opener.

Pinewood (1-0, 13-1) took care of things early by outscoring the Regents, 26-3, in the first quarter. Junior Marissa Hing added 11 points and five assists with freshman Erin Poindexter-McHan contributing 10 points. Senior Leeana Bade added nine points and six rebounds for Pinewood, which had all 12 players score.

Pinewood will host Eastside Prep on Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) in the first of two showdowns between the league favorites.

With 6-foot-3 sophomore Destiny Graham scoring a game-high 17 points and pulling down eight rebounds, visiting Eastside Prep opened its WBAL Foothill Division season with 45-31 victory over Menlo School on Tuesday night.

The Panthers (1-0, 9-6) shot only 15 percent from 3-point range and just 33 percent (17 of 51) for the game, the visitors nonetheless made it difficult for the Knights (0-1, 8-6) with a variety of defenses that forced Menlo into 11-for-44 shooting (25 percent). The Knights also had 17 turnovers as Graham dominated at both ends of the court.

In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep opened its WBAL Foothill Division season with a 47-46 win over visiting Mercy-San Francisco on Wednesday. Meghan Holland paced the Gators (1-0, 10-5) with 22 points, 12 coming on 3-pointers, with Caroline Cummings adding nine points.

In the PAL South Division, Menlo-Atherton played without its only senior, Emma Heath, and obviously missed their leader the Bears suffered their first league loss, 45-30, to visiting Mills.

Heath suffered a concussion in Saturday's win over Sacred Heart Prep and is sidelined until at least next week. Against Mills, the Bears (2-1, 10-4) saw their four-game win streak end as the Vikings led early in the game.

M-A, however, came back to take the lead early in the second quarter with Naomi Baer scoring five of her 13 points. The game remained close through the third, but the deeper Mills team pulled away from the injury depleted Bears in the fourth.

In Palo Alto, Castilleja opened its WBAL Skyline Division campaign with a 57-33 home victory over ICA. The Gators were missing point guard Ellie Chen, who was sidelined with illness, so Paige Vermeer stepped up with her first double-double of the season — scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Castilleja (1-0, 6-7) led by only 27-21 late in the first half, but an 8-0 run capped by Maddie Tarr's buzzer-beater put the Gators on top 35-21 at halftime. The teams played an even third quarter before Castilleja's defense shut down the Spartans, holding them to a single point in the fourth quarter.

Center Yasmeen Afifi recorded her seventh double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and also blocked nine shots. Tarr pulled down 12 boards with four steals, and freshman Cate Alder added 10 points, five rebounds, four4 assists and four steals.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn senior guard Zoe Zwerling scored a career-high 28 points as the Titans (2-1, 3-3) rolled to a 53-45 victory over host Milpitas.

In San Jose, Palo Alto got enough points on offense but allowed a season high on defense while dropping an 81-61 decision to host Lynbrook. Freshman Amelia Schmarzo led the Vikings (1-2, 7-7) with 14 points.

Wrestling

Three victories helped propel the Gunn wrestling team to a second-place finish at the annual San Ramon Invitational on Saturday at San Ramon Valley High.

Junior Ian Cramer led the Titans by not only winning the 138-pound title, but being named the Outstanding Wrestler of the seven lightweight divisions. Cramer went 4-0 while pinning all four opponents.

Michael Abramovitch won the 106-pound title with a 3-0 record, including one win and a technical fall, while senior teammate Stephen Martin went 3-0 with two pins to capture the 182-pound crown. While winning his second tourney title, Martin improved to 12-0 this season while pinning all but two opponents.

Gunn placed second in the 24-team tournament for the second straight year. The Titans edged last year's champ, Foothill of Pleasanton, but lost out to James Logan.

Gunn's three individual champions were the most of any school. The Titans also had two seconds, a third, a fourth and one fifth while finishing among the top three the past three years. Gunn now has 59 pins on the year.

Senior Cadence Lee was second at 113 pounds with a 2-1 mark and one pin, Eric Calderson was second at 220 with a pin, Cedric Linares was third at 152 with a 4-1 mark and Tavor Baharav was fifth at 145 with a 4-2 record.

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