By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Six local basketball teams took the court in their their respective CIF NorCal basketball playoff games on Wednesday night. Four walked away successful.
Surviving to play in Saturday's quarterfinals were the Menlo School boys plus the Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo, and Gunn girls.
Gunn used the momentum from its Central Coast Section Division I title from last week and rolled to a 44-30 victory over Galileo of San Francisco in opening-round action.
The No. 8-seeded Titans improved to 20-6 on the season while the Lions ended their season at 26-7. Gunn will play at No. 1 Monte Vista of Danville (24-5) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"We've got to play really good defense and take care of the basketball better," said Gunn head coach Sarah Stapp. "Against a good team like that, we can't make unforced turnovers -- it's going to be tough."
The Titans got off to a hot start in the first quarter when senior Nora Shevick drained two three-pointers in the first two Gunn possessions. Shevick led a huge 25-6 Titan run through 15 minutes, giving her team the 25-9 edge at the end of the first half.
The Lions' offense had no answer for a stubborn Titans' defense that allowed only nine points -- including only a single three-pointer -- going into halftime.
"They're (Galileo) really good three-point shooters," said Stapp. "We didn't give up too many three-point attempts. I thought we did a good job keeping it all in front of us."
Gunn would continue to roll on offense in the third quarter when junior Zoe Zwerling hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to start off the second half. Zwerling had a relatively quiet night with seven points.
Zwerling was announced Wednesday as the SCVAL De Anza Division Junior of the Year. Teammate Olivia Tapia was Sophomore of the Year while senior Claire Klausner and sophomore Meghan Mahoney made second team all-league.
Klausner had a strong fourth quarter for the Titans with two jumpers in back-to-back possessions, giving her team a comfortable 42-22 lead in the closing minutes.
"We're going to watch some film on Monte Vista this week and see what they do," said Zwerling. "We'll figure it out from there."
"We have to be confident at this point in the game," said Stapp. "If you're scared, you shouldn't be here."
In Atherton, the Menlo girls also used last weekend's CCS Division IV title as a springboard for NorCals as the Knights posted a 55-40 victory over Moreau Catholic of Hayward.
The Knights (21-9) next play No. 4 Bear River (26-4) in Grass Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Menlo center Drew Edelman, who is headed to USC, finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds in three quarters. Fellow senior Lauren Lete scored 15, including three 3-pointers for the Knights, also through three periods.
After holding a four-point lead in the first quarter, Menlo pulled way in the second with a 22-8 run and never looked back. Kaelen Dunn grabbed an offensive rebound and sank a shot to open the second quarter. Edelman's three-point play and Lete's three-pointer from right side gave the Knights a 21-12 cushion midway through the period.
The victory gave Menlo a 2-1 edge this season against Moreau Catholic, which toppled the Knights in the fourth game of the season when the Knights were missing Edelman due to injury. Edelman was on hand to score 26 points in a win over the Mariners in the Notre Dame-Belmont Tournament.
On Wednesday, Edelman had 18 points by halftime and had outscored Moreau Catholic by herself as the Knights held a 35-17 lead.
Following the girls' victory, the Menlo boys took to the court and kept their season alive with a 60-54 victory over St. Mary's (Berkeley) in another first-round game.
Sixth-seeded Menlo (21-7) advances to play host Marin Catholic, a third seed with a 24-8 mark, on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Against the Panthers, the Knights employed a balanced attack, getting 12 points each from juniors Bobby Roth and Wes Miller plus sophomore Liam Dunn. Junior Ryan Young also pitched in with 10 points and senior Shane Barratt had eight.
The teams played neck and neck throughout the game. Dunn drove the baseline for a basket with a minute left in the third to put Menlo ahead 44-43. Barratt grabbed the rebound on the other end and Miller converted for a 46-43 edge to enter the final period.
St. Mary's crawled back to tie the game at 54 after Jeremy Dennis hit two free throws and a jumper with nearly five minutes left. Miller countered with a basket and Roth converted a free throw for a three-point lead.
Young grabbed a key rebound and Roth took a hard foul and dropped two more free throws with 39 seconds left. Menlo ended the game on a 6-0 run as St. Mary's got into foul trouble and saw its top two players foul out and the Panthers' bench get a technical foul.
The Knights wound up hitting 24 of 31 foul shots while the Panthers were just 11 of 20 from the charity stripe.
In another girls' Division IV opener, No. 9-seeded Sacred Heart Prep made a lengthy drive to Shasta County on Wednesday well worth it by defeating host and No. 8 Anderson, 67-45. The Gators (22-9) next will play No. 1 Salesian (26-6) on Saturday at Pinole Valley High at 7 p.m.
In boys' Division I action, No. 6 De La Salle ended the season for No. 11 Palo Alto with a 35-25 victory on Wednesday night in Concord. The Vikings (23-4) trailed by 21-5 at halftime, but closed to 26-17 after three quarters.
Following a basket by Paly senior Aubrey Dawkins with 45 seconds left in the game, the Vikings were within 29-23. The Spartans (26-4), however, cashed in at the free-throw line in the waning seconds by hitting four straight for a 10-point lead 33-23 with 15.4 seconds to play. Dawkins finished with 14 points in his final prep game.
In a boys' Division V opener, No. 10-seeded Pinewood saw its season come to an end in a 64-56 loss to No. 7 Head Royce of Oakland (25-5) in Los Altos Hills. The Panthers, who won the CCS Division V title last weekend, finished 14-12. Greg Naumann scored 15 points to pace the Panthers. Fellow seniors Owen Lewis and Josh Rose closed their prep careers with 10 points each.