Priory and Eastside Prep are familiar foes | March 17, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 17, 2017

Priory and Eastside Prep are familiar foes

ECP seeks its third straight trip to state final

by Rick Eymer

Priory junior guard Tatiana Reese could have gone to another high school when the time came to choose. The school, especially girls basketball coach Buck Matthews, is happy she choose to stay.

Reese attended the lower school at Priory. When she was in the eighth grade, Priory didn't have a girls basketball team.

"I thought maybe they could start one," Reese said.

When the school decided to add a team, it became a no-brainer.

"I just love this school, with the small class sizes and individual attention," she said.

Reese grew up playing basketball against her father and uncle, both of whom played at Menlo-Atherton. She also played at Kelly Park, forming friendships with girls from other nearby high schools. For good measure, she also played on a boys club team in a program that produced two-time PAL South Division MVP Eric North of M-A.

Reese was not lacking basketball opportunities. Still, she formed a unique bond with the players at Priory and now, in its third season, the Panthers may have fully bloomed.

Priory (21-9) plays at Eastside College Prep (21-8) in the NorCal regional final on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Eastside Prep is the defending state Division V girls champion and is seeking its third consecutive trip to the state final.

Eastside pounded Argonaut, 63-25, in the regional semifinal. Priory did the same to Mt. Shasta, 61-35.

Priory lost both regular-season meetings but has been gaining confidence as the team returned to full health.

"This is really the first time we have the whole team," Reese said. "We were missing a player in the two other games. It should be a completely different game."

Eastside is known for its aggressive, full-court pressure and energized play. Reese thinks Priory might be better prepared.

"We beat Capital Christian, another really aggressive team who plays like every possession matters. We'll see if that helps. It should be a good matchup."

Eastside spread the wealth against Argonaut, getting 14 points from Zion Gabriel and 12 from Kayla Mahan, all on 3-pointers.

Ra'Anaa Bey and DeDe Franklin each added nine points, Mina Tameilau led the team with eight rebounds and the ever-reliable Kayla Tahaafe had seven assists and eight points.

In Priory's win, Samantha McCabe recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Ila Lane was a point away from a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds. Lala Niu added 12 points.

Junior spark plug Tatiana Reese is getting close to a triple-double. Tuesday she had 12 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and added three steals.

Sacred Heart Prep (16-14) lost in its bid to reach the Division IV regional final, dropping a 69-59 decision to St. Joseph's-Notre Dame, teh same team that knocked off Priory last year.

After falling behind by 12 in the first quarter, the Gators roared back to gain a 36-35 halftime advantage.

The Pilots soared ahead again in the third quarter and SHP could not answer the second run.

The Pilots were led by Zhane Duckett, who scored 23 points, had six assists, and recorded seven steals.

Pinewood made its run, but a little too late.

Cardinal Newman jumped all over a much smaller Pinewood team at the game's outset and completely dominated the first three quarters of the Northern California Open Division semifinal game Tuesday at Pinewood.

The Panthers waged a furious comeback in the fourth quarter and finished the game on a 13-2 run -- only to fall short as Newman held on for a 59-57 victory.

The No. 7 seed Cardinals will play top seed Archbishop Mitty for the NorCal Open Division regional championship Saturday at 6 p.m. at Santa Clara University.

"It was a tough way to lose, but I'm really proud of the girls,'' Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said.

Cardinal Newman (30-3) jumped to an 8-0 lead to start the game and led 15-9 at the end of the first quarter, 31-23 at halftime and 53-41 after three quarters behind 6-foot-3 senior forward Hailey Vice-Neat, a Boise State commit, who made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points.

"She was a tough matchup and a great shooter,'' Scheppler said. "They beat us at our own game.''

After Newman extended its lead to 57-44 in the fourth quarter the Panthers launched their comeback, using a full-court press to force turnovers and -- other than one 3-pointer by Mikaela Topper -- scored the rest of their points on drives to the basket.

Point guard Brianna Claros made two driving layups during that run, sophomore Hannah Jump, the leading 3-point shooter in the CCS, also converted two baskets off of penetration. And Klara Astrom added another bucket on an inside move.

"We played a little too tight, nervous and stressed,'' Scheppler said of his team in the early going. "But when we had nothing left to lose we did a great job of finding the basket on drives late in the game.''

A layup by Claros brought Pinewood (25-4) within 59-57 with 11.5 seconds left. A quick foul put Newman's Taylor Hextrum on the line with 9.1 seconds to go. She missed both free throws and Pinewood senior Akayla Hackson was fouled with 2.8 seconds left.

She missed the first shot and Newman called timeout. Scheppler had Hackson intentionally miss the second shot but Newman's size, a huge factor all game, made itself felt again with the defensive rebound as time ran out.

"That's been our Achilles heel all year,'' Scheppler said. "Size differential. Size matters. That made it easy for them to find ways to get easy baskets.''

Astrom led Pinewood with 15 points. Claros scored 12 while Jump and backup guard Caitlin Leung had 11 apiece.

"That was a great high school game,'' Scheppler said. "I hate to lose, but that was a great game.''

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