Menlo makes commitment to win hoops tourney

Menlo downed Palo Alto, 58-52, to win the Burlingame Lions Club tournament on Friday night. Photo by Glenn Reeves.

The first few minutes of the first quarter the Palo Alto half-court offense looked to be in mid-season form. Cutters were receiving passes in stride for layups and the Vikings jumped out to a 13-5 lead on Menlo School.

Menlo coach Keith Larsen called his second timeout of the first quarter.

“I thought we were pretty much done,’’ Larsen said. “I said, ‘guys, I’ve got three timeouts left. Stop dipping your toe in the water. You’ve got to dive in and play some defense,’ "

His team took those words to heart. Menlo went on an 11-0 run to close the quarter with a 16-13 lead and went on to a 58-52 victory Friday in the championship game of the Burlingame Lions Club Basketball Tournament at Burlingame High.

Menlo (4-0) already has wins over a couple of local rivals, Menlo-Atherton and Palo Alto, two teams the Knights were looking up at last season.

“They keep surprising me,’’ Larsen said. “One of my assistants, a Menlo grad, said he didn’t know the last time Menlo beat M-A and Palo Alto in the same year. We’ll see. We go down to L.A. on the 27th for a tournament and will play some of the big boys. We’ll see how good we really are. But if we stay healthy I like our chances.’’

Palo Alto beat the Knights in their last meeting, the 2012-13 season opener.

Menlo broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring Palo Alto 20-7 to open a 41-28 lead. Riley Woodson scored 10 points that quarter. He finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds and was named the tournament MVP.

“I missed some shots I should’ve made in the first half,’’ Woodson said. “I re-psyched myself at halftime. I told myself I’m just going to go through people, put the ball back up and not worry about anything else.’’

“We couldn’t keep him off the boards,’’ Palo Alto coach Peter Diepenbrock said.

Palo Alto (2-1), after only scoring 15 points over the previous 2 1/2 quarters, scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and drew within 54-52 on a turnaround jumper by Max Dorward with 1:21 left but Joe Foley answered with a foul-line jumper as the shot clock was running out and Kevin Chen added two free throws to close out the scoring.

“That was a heck of a good game,’’ Larsen said. “No great athletes out there, just two teams playing hard. Our guys just made one or two more plays.’’

Dorward led all scorers with 18 points. Will Schlemmer added 10 for Palo Alto. Foley had 11 for Menlo.

“What I take from this is we can’t let them make runs,’’ Schlemmer said. “We need to do a better job of putting the game away. We got a little stagnant on offense. We’ve got to keep cutting, keep moving and do a better job of moving the ball.’’

Sacred Heart Prep beat host Burlingame, 55-46, in the seventh-place contest.

Eric DeBrine and Brendan Carney each scored 13 points to pace the Gators (2-4), who host Mountain View in a nonleague game next Friday at 6 p.m.

Evan Nichols scored 12 and Everett Banks added 11 points.

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