|Since the end of the 2006 season, the Woodside Priory boys' basketball team has won 34 straight Private Schools Athletic League games in various ways. On Saturday, the Panthers found a way to keep the streak alive again.
With junior guard Kyle Berka scoring all 10 of his points during a 16-0 run that erased a seven-point deficit over the final minutes of the third quarter and the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Woodside Priory rallied for a 49-45 victory over Sacred Heart Prep at St. Joseph's School in Atherton.
The win clinched a second straight PSAL title for the Panthers (14-0, 20-4), who hold a three-game lead with two games to play. Priory is two wins away from its second consecutive 16-0 league season, which would stretch its PSAL winning streak to 36.
Sacred Heart Prep, which had four straight unbeaten league seasons until Priory rose to power, fell to 11-3 in league (14-8 overall) and into a second-place tie with Harker.
Berka single-handedly broke open the game over the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. On consecutive possessions, he accounted for a steal and an assist, another steal and layup and a free throw for a three-point play, and a three-point goal. The Priory went from a 32-32 game to an eight-point lead in 2:02. Berka then clinched the game with two free throws with 26 seconds remaining.
"Kyle changed the game," said Woodside Priory coach Al Klein. "Kyle is as competitive as any athlete I've coached, and when we got down he said, 'No more.'"
Sacred Heart Prep had a dramatic run in the first half. After falling behind 23-11 in the second quarter, the Gators went on a 19-2 spurt that featured a patient offense and nearly turnover-free execution (one second-quarter miscue). During that time, SHP forced Priory into six turnovers (12 in the first half).
That run coincided with an injury to Priory's 6-9 junior Dinko Marshavelski, who re-aggravated a foot injury. That left it up to Berka and 7-2 senior Greg Somogyi. The senior center responded to the challenge in the fourth quarter by scoring six of his 15 points and grabbing four of his eight rebounds.
In boys' basketball action Friday:
Gunn continues to grow and improve as the season develops, and the Titans passed another test with a thrilling 53-52 victory at Milpitas. Gunn improved to 7-3 in the SCVAL De Anza Division (15-8 overall).
Three weeks ago Gunn crushed Milpitas, 62-30, as the Titans didn't allow a single three pointer. On Friday, Gunn gave up seven treys but still hung tough defensively when it
"A win is a win," said Gunn guard Ryan Miller. "It doesn't matter if you win by one or by 32, just as long as you get the win."
Miller came through in the final minute when it appeared that Milpitas was going to tie the score at 52, but he swatted away a layup attempt and teammate Mike Shubat hit a free throw with nine seconds left to put Gunn up 53-50.
Milpitas still had a chance to win the game, but since the Trojans were out of timeouts, they had to hit a three to tie the game.
Gunn coach Chris Redfield instructed his players to guard the perimeter and not foul the shot. Milpitas did score, but it was only a two-point goal with three seconds left. That allowed Gunn to run out the clock.
This game was different from the first time the two teams met when Gunn got out to a 25-9 first period lead and a 37-14 halftime lead. On Friday, Gunn trailed by 20-19 after one period and 34-32 at halftime.
Gunn stepped up its defense in the second half and began to take control.
"We also had a lot of guys play well on both sides of the ball," Redfield said. "We had big game from Richard Wiley, Stephan Castro, Gus Brennan and everybody else."
Wiley led all scorers with 14 points while Castro added 12 as Gunn beat Milpitas for a sixth straight time. Brennan scored eight.
Gunn will host Los Gatos on Wednesday and then visits Palo Alto on Friday in a regular-season finale 7:45 p.m.
In the PAL South Division, Menlo produced another top defensive effort while defeating visiting Half Moon Bay, 40-24, to wrap up the division's regular-season championship. The Knights (9-1, 19-6) had no player score in double figures, but put 10 players in the scoring column. The Knights will compete in the PAL playoffs next week.
Getting season highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds from junior Sam Knapp, Menlo-Atherton rolled to a 71-61 win over visiting Woodside to close its South Division regular season. The Bears (8-2, 16-9) finished a strong second, trailing only Menlo (9-1). Rich Branning added 14 points for M-A with Peter DeFilipps contributing seven points and seven assists.
In the Christian Private Schools Athletic League, Eastside Prep (16-9) opened the league playoffs on Saturday with a 60-36 victory over Downtown College Prep. Junior forward Ivan Prema led the Panthers with 25 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. DJ Williams added eight points and six assists.
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