By Keith Peters
Three local boys' basketball team made it through the first round of the Central Coast Section playoffs on Tuesday night, but the next round will be considerably more difficult for all three.
Eastside Prep coach Chris Bischof didn't take a lot of momentum into the postseason after his team went 1-13 in the West Bay Athletic League this season. After starting the season 5-2, the Panthers were mired in an 11-game losing streak before winning their lone league outing against Priory.
Eastside Prep, however, was better than .500 during the nonleague season and thus qualified for the 14-team Division V bracket. The Panthers (7-18) nonetheless received a No. 11 seed and opened the playoffs on Tuesday by eliminating No. 14 G.B. Kirby (8-10) of Santa Cruz, 59-31, in East Palo Alto. Kyle Carter led the Panthers with 14 points.
"We knew we were eligible for CCS since we had a .500 nonleague schedule," said Bischof, "and we're just happy to be playing at this point. The guys are excited to be in CCS after not making it last year."
The Panthers now advance to face host and No. 6 St. Lawrence (16-9) on Thursday at 7 p.m. Also advancing to the second round was Menlo-Atherton and Kehillah Jewish of Palo Alto.
The Bears also received a No. 11 seed, for Division I, and made the most of it by racing to a 30-17 first-half lead and holding on for a 46-38 victory over visiting Carlmont (16-9), the No. 14 seed, on Tuesday night.
After dominating play in the first half, M-A went cold in the second -- making only one field goal (a three-pointer by Royce Branning) during a five-point third period. That allowed the Scots to get to within 35-27 heading into the final period. Branning opened the fourth quarter with a field goal, which would be the Bears' last one of the game. Fortunately for M-A, it cashed in on free throws down the stretch to secure the win. Senior Marquise Tolson led the way with 12 points.
The Bears (13-13) next will visit No. 6 Oak Grove (15-11) on Thursday night for a second-round game at 7 p.m.
Kehillah also survived to play another day in the postseason following a 55-47 opening-round victory over host and No. 12 seed Anzar (10-10). Kehillah (11-11), the No. 13 seed, now advances to face host and No. 5 Priory (10-11) on Thursday in Portola Valley at 7 p.m.
In another second-round game Thursday, No. 6 Menlo School (12-12) will host No. 11 Marina (14-11) in Division IV. Marina advanced with a 61-53 win over No. 14 Scotts Valley.
Palo Alto coach Erick Raich is preparing his team for a title defense in the SCVAL De Anza Division by scheduling the best teams possible. The first four opponents for the Vikings are St. Francis, Serra, Scotts Valley and nationally ranked Mitty.
Palo Alto opened its 2011 season on Tuesday by dropping a tough 3-2 nonleague decison to the host Lancers.
St. Francis pulled off a miraculous seventh-inning comeback to overcome the Vikings. Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, St. Francis senior Alex Blandino drove the ball into right field bringing in the tying run, before a flare down the first-base line ended the game.
Palo Alto starter Ben Sneider pitched five strong innings, holding the Lancers to just one run on four hits. St. Francis' Colin Reed matched Sneider, holding the Vikings to two runs before he was replaced by Kevin Zhang in the sixth inning. Will Glazier had a double for Paly (0-1) while Christoph Bono and T.J. Braff added singles. Paly reliever Graham Marchant gave up two earned runs over 1 1/3 innings to get the loss.
Paly will visiting Serra on Thursday (3:30 p.m.), will visit Scotts Valley on Friday (3:30 p.m. and will face Mitty on Monday (7 p.m.) in the opening round of the Mike Hazlett Tournament.