The Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball teams had a golden opportunity on Friday night. Both had a chance to take over sole possession of first place in their respective leagues and take control of their own destiny. Both did just that.
Getting great team defense and 20 points from junior Max Schmarzo, Palo Alto took over first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a solid 54-40 domination of visiting Los Gatos. The Vikings, who avenged their only loss of the league season, improved to 6-1 (13-6 overall) while the Wildcats dropped into second place at 5-2 (16-3) after being held to their lowest point total of the season.
"We had great team defense, holding Los Gatos to 40 points," said Paly coach Bob Roehl, who also pointed to the rebounding of Kevin Brown, Charlie Jones, Davante Adams and Schmarzo as a key to the big victory. "We also got a spark from EJ Floreal in the first half off the bench -- rebounding and hustle."
Schmarzo had four 3-pointers while senior Joseph Lin added two while finishing with 12 points, with Adams adding 11. The Vikings also made all 14 of their free throws, going 10-for-10 in the fourth quarter to put things away.
In San Jose, Sacred Heart Prep got a combined 35 points from junior twin brothers Reed and Will McConnell in taking over sole possession of first place in the West Bay Athletic League with 54-37 thumping of former co-leader Harker. The Gators own the top spot at 7-1 (13-5) after their fifth-straight win while Harker falls to 6-2 (17-4).
"We did up the tempo a bit but some questionable foul calls slowed us down some," said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. "The kids played hard and battled through some adversity. It was a good road win."
Reed McConnell led the way with 20 points while Will added 15. Both hit a pair of three-pointers to help the Gators grab a 29-14 halftime lead. Sacred Heart Prep never trailed after taking a 15-7 first-quarter lead. The win for SHP avenged a 55-50 loss in the first round of league play.
Also in the WBAL, Pinewood (5-2, 12-4) held Eastside to 9-of-48 shooting on the way to a 64-30 victory on Friday night in Los Altos Hills. Pinewood was led by senior Max Lippe with 16 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Junior Aaron Daines added 15 points and sophomore Solomone Wolfgramm had 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Eastside led 11-10 after one quarter, but Pinewood outscored the visitors 33-13 over the next two quarters to break open the game. Junior Leslie Gray led Eastside (1-7, 3-14) with 19 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Pinewood can pull into a tie for second place with Harker by beating visiting Menlo on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Host Menlo notched its second win of the week on Friday night by knocking off Crystal Springs, 56-43. The Knights (4-3, 6-10) got balanced scoring in the win over with two players in double figures -- Harrison Nida scored 14 points while James Carpenter contributed 10. Kent Lacob and Jonny Halprin had nine and eight points, respectively.
In Sunnyvale, freshman Gabor Somogyi poured in a career-high 23 points but it wasn't enough as Priory dropped a 58-53 decision to host King's Academy. The Panthers (3-5, 8-9) played without 6-9 senior Levente Juhos. Ben Kovachy and Alex Peyser each added 10 points for Priory. The 6-7 Somogyi made four 3-pointers.
In another SCVAL De Anza Division game, Gunn took advantage of winless Wilcox and handed the visiting Chargers a 45-39 loss in a SCVAL De Anza Division game on Friday night. The Titans (3-4, 10-9) won for the second time this week.
Things didn't start out real well, however, after Gunn managed just four points in the first quarter. The tempo picked up after that as the Titans took a 20-9 halftime lead against the Chargers (0-7, 5-14). Senior guard Bharat Reddy scored 14 points in his second straight game to pace Gunn while Jack Hannan added 11. The Titans cashed in big at the free-throw line by making 23 of 28 attempts.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton (2-4, 10-10) suffered its second straight loss this week as the Bears dropped a 52-43 decision to Mills on Friday night. M-A once again played without injured point guard Jeff Keller and his absence was felt. Myles Brewer led the Bears with 18 points while Nils Gilbertson added 12.