The Palo Alto girls basketball team clinched the outright SCVAL De Anza Division championship Wednesday with a 58-48 win over Los Gatos at Gunn High.
Doing it against Los Gatos, the team that supplanted Paly last year at the top of the standings, made it all the sweeter.
“It makes it very satisfying to win league after last year,’’ Palo Alto coach Scott Peters said. “We had a chance in the last game of the year to tie. To get the sole championship feels real good.’’
While the final score, a 10-point win, was similar to the results of many other games this season, Palo Alto (18-3, 11-0) achieved this one in non-typical fashion.
The Vikings are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation, averaging around 10 made 3s per game throughout the season. Los Gatos (18-5, 8-3) decided to try to take away the 3, to chase Paly off the 3-point line. So it was time to take the ball to the hoop.
“They were definitely up on me,’’ said sharp-shooter Lauren Koyama, who led Palo Alto with 20 points.
Koyama made just one 3-pointer but had five 2-pointers, all on drives to the basket. She also went 7 of 8 at the foul line.
“It was a good change for me,’’ she said. “If I drive more now it will open up my 3-point shot.’’
She wasn’t the only one to adopt that strategy. Skylar Burris scored 14 and Carly Leong 12, with the majority of those points also arriving by way of penetration.
It wasn’t like they’d never seen that defensive approach.
“In the second half (of the season) a lot of teams have been doing that,’’ Peters said. “”We’ve got to take what they give up.’’
Los Gatos jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the first quarter before Palo Alto went on a 9-0 run to take control. Burris started the run with a pair of foul shots then Leong scored on an acrobatic drive. Burris scored off a pass from Leong as Paly took the lead and then Ellie Jeffries hit a 3 under heavy pressure to close out the quarter.
Los Gatos never got closer than five points down the rest of the way.
Palo Alto concludes the regular season Thursday at Saratoga, then waits for Sunday’s seeding meeting to find out whether it will be in the Open or in Division I.
“Our goal was to win league,’’ Peters said. “Wherever they send us we will go out and play and enjoy it.’’
Kyle Stadler, Eric DeBrine, and Tevin Panchal combined for points but Sacred Heart Prep (11-13, 7-7) fell to host King's Academy, 45-34, in a WBAL game Wednesday.
Palo Alto (13-6-1, 6-5-1) beat visiting Santa Clara, 5-0, in a SCVAL make-up match Wednesday. The Vikings finished the regular season with the possibility of advancing into the CCS playoffs.
Menlo-Atherton (6-7-4, 6-6-1) dropped a 2-1 decision to visiting Aragon in a PAL Bay Division match Wednesday.