The Menlo-Atherton girls basketball team took sole possession of first place with a 44-32 PAL Division victory over host Hillsdale on Wednesday night.
The Bears improved to 8-1 (16-5 overall) while the Knights dropped to 7-2 (14-7 overall) and into second place. M-A has now won six in a row and 10 out of its past 11 games.
"If you're playing team basketball, you'll win some games," said Menlo-Atherton head coach Markisha Coleman. "We're pretty deep at every spot. When they come out, they fight and play hard.You have 12 girls that are committed and play hard for each other."
With 10 seconds left in the first quarter, senior Naomi Baer scored on a put-back shot under the basket and made it a 13-10 lead for the Bears to end the first.
The M-A defense stepped up in the second quarter, allowing only two field goals and five total points.
M-A sophomore Ilana Baer made a layup with 25 seconds left in the half, putting her team up 19-15 going into halftime. Baer finished with a team-high 12 points.
Caelynn Hwang had a solid night and finished with a game-high 15 points for Hillsdale.
Menlo-Atherton committed 10 turnovers in the first half before settling down in the second half, turning it over just four times.
"At halftime I told them they need to rebound and take care of the basketball," said Coleman, who played at Eastside Prep before playing at Stanford. "That was our main focus in the second half, to take care of the ball. This was a big game for both teams so we just settled down and started playing M-A basketball."
In beginning of the third quarter, Baer went for a loose ball but tripped and twisted her ankle. She came back into the game later in the quarter. With two minutes left, Naomi Baer sank one of two free throws to give her team a 30-25 edge going into the fourth.
Hillsdale came out in the fourth quarter ice cold from the field and went on a four-minute scoring drought. The Knights managed only seven points on two converted field goals in the quarter.
With just over two minutes left in the game, M-A sophomore Ofa Sili made back-to-back layups and the Bears took a safe 40-27 lead.
"This was a really big game for us," said Sili, who had recovered from an injury three games ago. "Although I was tired and my knee was hurting, I knew I couldn't give up. I kept trying to put up every shot I could and luckily they went in."
Ilana Baer looked recovered from her injury in the fourth quarter and cashed in seven points for the Bears. Sili and Baer combined for 22 total points.
"It was a big game for both teams," said Coleman. "I think both teams came out and played hard all 32 minutes but we're definitely glad we were on the winning side."
The M-A girls' will host Sequoia (2-6) on Friday at 6:15.