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Eastside Prep girls all alone in first in WBAL hoops race

Competitive basketball race tightens up as Pinewood wins while Menlo, Castilleja lose

The battle for girls' basketball supremacy in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) is being won by Eastside Prep, but the fight is far from over following another interesting night of action.

Eastside Prep remained in first place by knocking Menlo School out of a share for the lead. Pinewood moved back into contention with an easy victory over Sacred Heart Prep. And, Castilleja continued to struggle this week by suffering its second-straight setback, this time to host Mercy-San Francisco.

In a showdown to determine sole possession of first place in the WBAL (Foothill Division), Eastside Prep and its five-player lineup pulled off yet another important victory with a 52-43 defeat of host Menlo on Friday night. The Panthers (4-0, 15-2) won their 10th straight while the Knights (2-1, 11-5) saw their six-game winning streak end. Menlo hadn't lost since the finals of the San Lorenzo Valley Tournament on Dec. 21.

Menlo battled the whole night but could not overcome Eastside's strong shooting, which produced seven 3-pointers. Eastside Prep junior Ahjalee Harvey made four treys and finished with a game-high 27 points. Senior Felicia Anderson and junior Leanne Martin added nine points each while Hashima Carothers pulled down 11 rebounds.

Menlo was once again led by 6-foot-2 freshman Drew Edelman, who collected her 15th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Also, Whitney Hooper contributed 15 points and three blocks for Menlo.

In Atherton, Pinewood (2-1, 11-5) raced to a 33-11 halftime lead and coasted to a 57-20 thumping of host Sacred Heart Prep on Friday. The Panthers moved into a tie for second place with Menlo as Emily Liang scored a season-high 21 points. Hailie Eackles added 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals while Kelsey Morehead had eight points and seven assists. Miranda Seto also played a significant role with five points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

In San Francisco, Castilleja and Mercy-SF combined for only seven points in the fourth quarter and the visiting Gators (1-3, 12-4) wound up suffering a 34-32 setback to Mercy (2-2, 16-2) as senior Danielle Lasirona sank a breakaway layup as time expired to send Castilleja to its first three-game losing streak since February 2002.

Castilleja had a 10-0 run late in the first quarter sparked by junior Natasha von Kaeppler, who tallied 15 of her game-high 17 points in the first half. Mercy battled back, reeling off nine straight midway through the second period to trail by seven at the half. Castilleja went cold in the second half as the Skippers continued to push their way back -- eventually taking their first lead of the game (by a point) in the final seconds of the third on a three-pointer by sophomore Mariah Masoli.

The final frame proved to be a defensive battle as the two teams exchanged leads once again before Eve Zelinger tied the game for the final time with 3:50 left. Neither team scored again until the final seconds when Mercy rebounded a Castilleja miss and fired a lead pass ahead to a streaking Lasirona, who gathered the ball and laid in the game-winner as time expired. Castilleja missed all 13 of its field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Castilleja was led by von Kaeppler's 17 points, nine rebounds, four steals and career high-tying seven blocks. Zelinger, however, was held to nine points, but did have nine rebounds and three assists while sophomore Riya Modi led the team with four assists.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Gunn got a career-high 23 points from sophomore Cat Perez in a big 50-47 victory over visiting Mountain View. The Spartans brought a 4-1 first-place record into the game. Gunn, meanwhile, improved to 3-2 (6-8 overall).

"That was an important game for us," said Gunn coach Sarah Stapp. "All games this season have been like this in the De Anza. There are no easy games for anybody."

Throughout the game it was a game of streaks as one team would get hot than the other. Gunn finally got the advantage at the beginning of the second half. After a Mountain View scored for a 25-23 lead, the Titans ran off 11 straight points and never trailed again.

With 30 seconds left it appeared the game was over when Perez broke free for an easy layup for her final points, putting Gunn up 48-42. But Mountain View came back and made a three pointer with 12 seconds left to cut it to 48-45. On the inbounds play, Gunn's Claire Klausner was fouled and went to the line for a one-and-one. Klausner calmly made both free throws with nine seconds left before the Spartans scored with 0.8 seconds left. Klausner, a freshman, added 14 points.

Elsewhere in the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto (2-3, 9-6) suffered its second straight loss, a 46-39 decision to Monta Vista on Friday. The Vikings made only four of 21 foul shots, including just one of 12 in the fourth quarter to allow the Matadors to pull away.

In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton dropped a 48-43 decision to Terra Nova on Friday night. Victoria Fakalata and Jessica Tuliau each scored 12 points for the Bears (1-3, 6-12), who trailed by only five entering the final period but couldn't make up the difference.

Prep scores, game details from PA Online Sports.

-- Tom Jacoubowsky contributed to this story.

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