It was more difficult than expected, but the Sacred Heart Prep boys' basketball team nonetheless achieved a big season goal by winning the West Bay Athletic League title with a closer-than-expected 61-58 victory over visiting King's Academy on Friday night.
With the triumph, the Gators (13-1, 19-5) clinched their first league title since 2006 while King's (6-8, 10-14) finished in fifth place.
"Way too close," said SHP coach Tony Martinelli. "Kings needed the game to get into CCS and played like it. They gave us everything they had!"
The league title most likely will earn SHP a No. 1 seed in the Central Coast Section playoffs, which begin next week. The section seeding meeting is this weekend.
Sacred Heart Prep trailed by one at halftime, but appeared to blow the game open with a 22-9 third quarter. King's, however, bounced back with 20 points in the final period to make a game of it as Amir Carlisle poured in a game-high 24 points. SHP got 16 points from Reed McConnell, 11 from his twin brother, Will, plus 10 points and solid rebounding from Ty Cobb.
Sacred Heart Prep got itself in foul trouble, sending King's to the line 26 times, where the visitors scored seven more points than the Gators from the charity stripe. SHP help offset that by making 10 three-pointers.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood was still missing three of its starters (still injured), so the Panthers turned to five sophomores who stepped up and 52 points to spark the Panthers to a 71-63 victory over visiting Priory on Friday to cap the WBAL regular season. Pinewood finished in third at 10-4 (17-6) while Priory finished 4-10 (9-14).
Priory held a three-point lead late in the third quarter on the strength of 23 points in the period. Pinewood, however, exploded for 28 points in the final quarter to pull away. Sophomore Solomone Wolfgramm led Pinewood with 23 points, 12 rebounds and two assists despite battling cramps throughout the game. Senior Max Lippe also made a major contribution with 14 points 12 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks.
Priory welcomed back 6-foot-9 senior Levente Juhos from a foot injury and he made his presence felt with a season-high 32 points, 19 coming in the third quarter. Priory, however, could not overcome Pinewood's 23-of-31 free throws. Pinewood's five sophomores shot 17 of 22 from the free- throw line, including 14 of 16 in the second half. Priory was just eight of nine. Pinewood out-rebounded Priory, 36-18, but turned the ball over 16 times to Priory's 13.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, getting another balanced scoring effort with unselfish lay, the Palo Alto boys' basketball team finished off its league championship season with an 85-57 blasting of host Wilcox on Friday night. The regular-season finale matched the league's best against the worst. Paly finished 13-1 in league (18-6) with its 10th straight win.
"Brendan Rider, Joseph Lin and Davante Adams got us off to a good start in the game with their passing and scoring," said Paly coach Bob Roehl. "Steven Kerr contributed 10 (points) and excellent defense."
Winless Wilcox was no match for the Vikings, who grabbed a 43-23 halftime lead and coasted from there. Lin led the way with 18 points while junior Max Schmarzo added 14 and Adams had 12.
Menlo School earned the WBAL's second automatic berth for the CCS playoffs with a 2-1 victory over visiting Harker on Friday in the championship match of the league playoffs. The Knights (12-7-2) needed to win to assure themselves of a postseason berth. Otherwise, an at-large berth was the team's only hope.
In a exciting and close match, Menlo held on for the victory over Harker, which eliminated the WBAL's second-place team, Priory, in the semifinals. Only two teams from the WBAL receive automatic berths to the CCS playoffs.
With the flow of the game switching back and forth between the two sides, both teams managed to find the net in the first half. Menlo struck first with Dawson Williams scoring for the third consecutive match. In the second half, Sam Parker made a long run down the flank and unleashed a wicked shot from outside the box with barely enough room to squeak past the keeper and the far post for the winning goal.
Menlo coach Mary Arya singled out center backs Coby Joseph and Henry Bard for their standout play. Menlo will discover where it will be playing next week when the CCS seeds are decided on Saturday.