It appeared as though the Menlo-Atherton girls basketball team had the game under control. The Bears had a 13-point lead over Atherton neighbor and rival Menlo School at halftime and maintained that 13-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
But then Menlo, which had been agonizing through an ice-cold shooting game, suddenly got some shots to drop. The Knights scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter to pull within one of M-A.
Menlo-Atherton coach Markisha Coleman called timeout.
“I told them to be patient, that we’d be OK,’’ Coleman said.
And one other thing: get the ball to Greer Hoyem on the low block.
That’s what the Bears did on three successive trips down court and were rewarded with three consecutive baskets by Hoyem. A 54-53 lead transformed to a much more comfortable 60-53 advantage and M-A held on for a 64-57 victory in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Competitive Division I at Eastside Prep.
Charlotte Levison scored 15 points and Sacred Heart Prep beat Millikan-Long Beach in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Competitive Division II.
Host Eastside Prep beat Central-Fresno, 58-53, to win the Elite Division title.
Hoyem, a prototype back-to-the-basket low-post scoring threat, finished with a game-high 23 points.
“She’s very reliable and every game she’s getting better,’’ Coleman said.
Hoyem is a big problem for most every Menlo-Atherton opponent.
Menlo School tries to create its own problems with an incessant full-court press. But for most of Saturday’s game M-A was able to not only handle the press but exploit with easy baskets as a result of Menlo’s tendency to trap and overplay. The Bears were 6 of 7 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the foul line in a 21-point second quarter and shot 50 percent for the game (21 of 42).
“We had an overtime game last night,’’ Paye said in reference to a 70-59 win over Eastlake of Chula Vista in Friday’s semifinals. “Our legs were maybe a little tired.’’
“A lot of teams press us,’’ Coleman said. “I think we did a pretty good job today against their press.’’
Erica Fischer scored 12 points and Carly McLanahan had 11 for M-A. Mallory North and Erin Dunn scored 15 points apiece for Menlo. Freshman point guard Avery Lee added 13.
The loss was the first of the season for Menlo (8-1), which plays next Jan. 6 against Oakland in the New Year’s Shootout at Pittsburg High.
The win was the sixth in a row for M-A, which started the season 1-4 against a difficult early-season schedule. The Bears are back in action Friday, again at Eastside, the place where Coleman played high school basketball before moving on to Stanford.
“This place brings back a lot of good memories,’’ she said.
Paye, of course, is also a former Stanford athlete. He went on from a legendary prep career at Menlo to be a two-sport, football-basketball performer on The Farm.
Zoe Zaharias and Grace Battles each scored 10 points for the Gators (9-2), who host St. Francis in a nonleague game on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Denise Stine scored nine points, all from the foul line, and Grace Florendo hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Kayla Tahaafe scored 22 points in Eastside's victory over Central. Zion Gabriel added 21. The two guards combined for five of the six 3-pointers made by the Panthers (7-3). Amira Brown also hit a long-range shot.
Eastside College Prep has won six of its last seven games heading into Friday's 7 p.m. against visiting Menlo-Atherton.