Making good in the clutch | March 10, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 10, 2017

Making good in the clutch

Four local teams advance in NorCal play

by Glenn Reeves

Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto and Priory each survived nail-biters to survive for another day in NorCal boys basketball playoffs. Menlo had an easier time of it, reversing a regular-season loss to keep state tournament hopes alive.

Menlo-Atherton was struggling to stay in the game Wednesday with visiting Oakland Tech when Kai Winterling found the touch from long distance.

Winterling connected on three 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions, turning a 40-38 deficit into a 47-41 lead, and host M-A hung on for a 53-51 victory in a Northern California Division I boys basketball first-round game.

"For me it started earlier in the game when I made a good layup,'' Winterling said. "Just seeing the ball go through the hoop helped me out. Then after one 3 goes down the green light comes on.''

No. 7 seed Menlo-Atherton (23-7) advances to play at No. 2 Heritage (26-4) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Oakland Tech (26-5) led for most of the game, but was never able to break away. A 36-29 advantage in the third quarter was its biggest lead.

The Bears trailed 38-33 at the end of the third quarter. James Beckwith hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter. Then, after a basket by Oakland Tech standout Souley Bourn made it 40-36, M-A's game-turning run started with a fastbreak basket by Eric Norton.

"We're a team of runs, whether it's one person or a team effort,'' Winterling said.

Once M-A took that six-point lead the Bulldogs never got closer than two points behind the rest of the way. Bourn, a USF-signee who scored 20 points, fouled out with 1:22 left. Winterling led M-A with 16 points.

"(Winterling) will be the first to admit that he's been struggling with his 3-point shot,'' Molieri said. "Tonight he stepped up. He was the guy we fed off last year in NorCals.''

M-A went into the game having lost three in a row: the PAL Tournament final to Sequoia followed by a 0-2 performance that was lacking in emotion, according to Molieri, in the CCS Open Division playoffs.

"We're not the most intimidating team,'' Molieri said. "We're undersized. We have our flaws. But tonight we showed a lot of heart."

CCS Division I

Palo Alto advanced to the quarterfinal round, defeating host Fremont-Oakland, 59-56, at Merritt College in Oakland on Wednesday night.

Junior Will Schlemmer scored 14 points to lead the Vikings (24-4), who play top-seeded Dublin on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Gaels (29-4) finished second to De La Salle in the East Bay Athletic League and beat Lowell-San Francisco, 72-54, on Wednesday.

Schlemmer sank a pair of third-quarter 3-pointers to help Palo Alto recover from a 12-point halftime deficit. He also grabbed six rebounds.

Junior Max Dorward scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the Vikings to nurture its lead. He also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, and added three assists.

Senior point guard Miles Tention scored 10, including two 3-pointers, and contributed seven assists.

CCS Division IV

Menlo turned the tables on University-San Francisco, coasting to a 63-35 NorCal Division IV first-round victory at historic Kezar Pavilion.

The ninth-seeded Knights improve to 20-7, and face top seed Palma (23-4) on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Salinas. Palma defeated West Valley, 77-34, in another NorCal opener.

Menlo is familiar with Salinas, having played at Hartnell College during the CCS tournament.

University and Menlo met earlier in the season, with the Red Devils defeating the Knights, 74-70, at their gym on Jackson Street.

This time, the Knights were firing on all cylinders with a much more open floor in which to run their offense.

"This time we were able to push the break and get up the court quicker," Menlo's Thomas Brown said.

The Knights got a 21-point performance from Brown, who also had four rebounds and four assists. Junior guard Joe Foley also poured in 21 points via many methods: three-point shots, ankle-turning drives, and short jumpers.

He also added six assists while fellow junior Riley Woodson had 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter and finished with 14 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Knights were unraveling the Red Devils' offense, and by the third quarter limited them to a single three-pointer.

"If we keep playing our game, keep defending, working the ball around, and not take shots too early, I think we're going to continue playing well," Brown said. "We've just been focusing on each game, focusing on the fundamentals."

CCS Division V

Priory boys basketball coach David Moseley went with a coat and tie for a first-round NorCal Division V game with visiting No. 11 Brookside Christian of Stockton.

Showing tremendous discipline, Moseley kept coat and non-loosened tie on for the entire 32 minutes as the Panthers held off the Knights, 52-50, to advance to Saturday's quarterfinals.

The sixth-seeded Panthers (22-6) take on No. 3 Branson (25-8) in Ross at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Priory's win wasn't secured until BC's TreVon Simmons missed on a drive through the lane with 2 seconds left on the clock. Simmons led all scorers with 19 points.

"It's survive and advance," Moseley said. "You know the saying. It's March, it's madness. We just want to keep playing. We have a good team. If we ever actually play well and start clicking, we can be special."

The Panthers have a special player in junior center Emmanuel Ajanaku-Makun, who made things difficult for the Knights (21-9) all game. The 6-foot-10 Ajanaku-Makun grabbed 18 boards, blocked seven shots, adding nine points.

"Emmanuel changed a lot of shots and didn't foul out," Moseley said. "That was huge."

Ayo Aderoboye, who stands 6-6, scored 10 points for Priory, nailing two first-period treys.

Aderoboye, who played several minutes at the point position, added eight boards and a block.

Lucas Harris scored with his left hand off the glass early in the third quarter, the Panthers up 27-25. Harris had six points and six boards off the bench.

Trailing 32-29, Priory guard Nico Arslaner converted on a tough drive to bring the Panthers closer headed into the final period.

Arslaner, who had 14 points, scored on a one-handed tip early in the fourth period, the Panthers trailing by three points. The game intensified as Ajanaku-Makun scored on a follow shot.

In the key sequence of the contest, Zach Weiss, who had eight points, scored on a runner to get the Panthers within 40-39.

Away from the ball, an official ruled a Brookside player committed a flagrant foul on Ajanaku-Makun, which meant two free throws and the ball for Priory. Matt Boyle sunk both free throws to put Priory up by a point with 4:58 remaining.

"That was a game-changer," Moseley said.

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