"It's exciting that we can have a game like this in league,'' Palo Alto coach Jeff LaMere said. "Two teams that are 5-0, two teams in close proximity. It's a special opportunity because it doesn't come around that often. It's rare. I think it will be a wonderful atmosphere.''
Los Altos is having its best season in years with an overall record of 16-1.
"Very skilled offensive team with a lot of guys who can shoot and score,'' LaMere said. "Los Altos is having a special season. They've lost only one game, they're beating everybody and finding ways to win. They're a talented group. Their coach does a wonderful job with them. They're a team that keeps coming at you. I respect how hard they play. They've got multiple guys who can score, a lot of weapons.''
Palo Alto (13-4 overall) endured a couple of one-sided losses early on in non-league play to Bellarmine and Menlo-Atherton, but have made steady progress and go into Friday's game on a six-game winning streak.
"I'm really happy how much our guys have improved,'' LaMere said.
But the team is not at full strength. Guard Conner Lusk, the team's second-leading scorer, is out for the foreseeable future with a broken arm. Aidan Rausch did not play Wednesday versus Milpitas due to illness and Martin Segura, a 6-6 post, is out with a concussion.
Other players have had to step up to complement Matthew Marzano, the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Ryan Purpur, the other half of the team's 6-6 twin towers, scored a game-high 19 points Wednesday in the win over Milpitas.
Purpur has been a key starter all season. LaMere is pleased with contributions some other players have started to make.
"Our bench is coming along,'' LaMere said. "Simon Minami, who really hadn't played much before the Gunn game, for him to come out and play how he did showed a lot of character and maturity. And Elijah Steiner is really coming along for us. He makes plays and knows his role.''
So Friday's winner establishes the inside track to a division title.
"It should be fun,'' Marzano said. "They've got some talented guys, but so do we. Conner's out, but we have some other guys who are stepping up.''
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Peninsula Athletic League South Division leader Menlo-Atherton maintained its unblemished league record with a 78-36 victory over host Aragon. The Bears (14-3, 5-0) take a 10-game winning streak into its home game against Woodside at 7:45 p.m. Friday. The Wildcats (11-5, 2-3) lost to host San Mateo 57-47.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Sacred Heart Prep kept itself in the title picture with an 83-26 victory over visiting Crystal Springs Uplands as Aidan Braccia scored 17 points, one of five Gators who reached double figures in scoring.
SHP (11-3, 5-1) travels to play Priory (12-4, 5-1) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a key game. The winner can still control its own destiny in the league as both are a game behind Menlo with the second half of the league season remaining to be played.
Aidan Burke scored 15 points for the Gators, followed by Jai Deshpande with 15, Harrison Carrington with 12 and Charlie Selna with 11.
In a non-league game, Pinewood downed visiting Summit Prep 77-53. Pinewood (10-6, 3-4) travels to play Eastside Prep (11-4, 2-4) at 5 p.m. Friday.
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