High school sports roundup TENNIS | June 4, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - June 4, 2021

High school sports roundup TENNIS

Boys basketball

Last basket wins.

That playground call was certainly applicable Tuesday when Tayo Sobomehin made a layup as time expired to give Priory a 60-59 win over Sacred Heart Prep in a game that decided the West Bay Athletic League championship.

It was Sobomehin's game from beginning to end. The sophomore point guard finished with 26 points on 9 of 11 field-goal shooting, 6 of 7 from 3-point range, and was 2 of 2 at the foul line.

Sobomehin is listed at 5-7, but Priory coach David Moseley, the former Stanford standout, had this to say:

"He's 5-5, maybe 5-4, but he's stronger than he looks. You can't take advantage of him. And he's cat quick. I don't like to make this comparison, but Brevin Knight was the quickest player I'd ever seen. Tayo is nearly as quick.''

The game featured a series of runs. Priory (14-1, 12-0) started off strong just like it did in the first meeting between the two teams, and led 7-0 and 13-2 in the first quarter. Sacred Heart Prep (12-7, 10-2), playing its up-tempo style, went on a 16-0 run to turn a 20-11 deficit into a 27-20 lead. The Gators led by 12 on three occasions late in the second quarter.

Priory gradually chipped away at the SHP lead and finally caught up at 58-58 when Sobomehin made his two free throws with 1:30 left.

"We went to a zone in the third quarter to slow them down,'' Moseley said. "We tried to make their scorers work on defense and tire them out. If you play their game it's hard to outscore them.''

Harrison Carrington's free throw with 33 seconds to go put the Gators back on top and set up the final possession. Priory missed a shot under pressure and in the scramble for the loose ball was awarded a timeout with three seconds left.

"I called it around five times before they finally gave it to me,'' Moseley said.

After that timeout and one called by SHP coach Tony Martinelli, Sobomehin set up on the perimeter on the right side of the 3-point arc, cut off a screen set by David Akanaju-Makun, and received the inbounds pass from Ashton Axe on the left side of the lane where he put up the game-winning shot.

"Our inability to secure the defensive rebound cost us the game,'' Martinelli said.

Now both teams look ahead to Wednesday's Central Coast Section seeding meeting (after The Almanac's press deadline).

"Hopefully we get in the Open,'' Moseley said. "We really want it.''

Aidan Braccia led SHP with 19 points. Kevin Carney and RJ Stephens scored 9 points apiece.

Akanaju-Makun and Axe scored 9 while Zach Zafran and defensive standout Rostand Olama Abanda each had 8 points for Priory.

"Our group of seniors remembered getting their butts kicked by them,'' Moseley said. "We're young, but they're young, too. It will be quite the rivalry.''

Swimming

Sacred Heart Prep's rise to the top of the Central Coast Section girls swimming championship Saturday in Hollister took a circuitous route and was nearly derailed by the pandemic.

Eleven different Gator swimmers scored as SHP accumulated 315 1/2 points, beating St. Francis (274 1/2) and St. Ignatius (271). Castilleja finished seventh (156) with the help of a 1-2 finish of Paige Lai and Madeline Parker in diving, and Menlo School's one-woman team of Ashely Scafetta was 16th with 30 points.

Gators' coach Kevin Morris missed the first day of practice because of a quarantine issue. Senior Day had to be canceled because of "close contact," and most of the seniors were relegated to staying home for a week.

The CCS meet was a surprise all on its own. Morris and most other swimming coaches set up a training regime that did not include the usual season-ending event.

"We really only had a four-week season before our league finals, and then CCS came two weeks after that," said Morris, in his 20th year at the school. "In fact, we didn't even find out the CCS meet was happening until the week of our league finals, so we certainly couldn't have structured our training around a meet we didn't even know would exist."

Sacred Heart Prep certainly found a way to improvise, and it led to the most successful swimming season in school history.

Three different swimmers won individual titles. Sophomore Audrey J-Cheng won the 200 individual medley with an All-American consideration time of 2:02.99. Junior Kaia Li won the 100 back with a time of 55.60, also All-American consideration. Junior Margot Gibbons won the 500 free in 4:53.59, an All-American consideration time.

J-Cheng went on to place second in the 100 back with an automatic All-American time of 1:02.26, which sets a school record.

Li swam second to J-Cheng in the 200 IM, finishing the race in yet another 'AAC' time of 2:03.61.

Gibbons started the day with a third-place finish in the 200 free (1:52.68) and Eleanor Facey, who will be playing water polo at Stanford in the fall, placed eighth in 1:56.26.

Sacred Heart Prep also won the first event of the day. Li, J-Cheng, Annaliese Chen (heading to Swarthmore) and Ella Woodhead went 1:45.18 in the 200 medley relay, edging St. Ignatius by about a half-second.

"That first race was the key race of the meet for us," Morris said. "It set the tone for the rest of the meet. A few minutes later, Audrey and Kaia went 1-2 in the 200 IM and Annaliese moved up to win the consolation final. That gave us a pretty big lead that we never relinquished."

Without the 14 teams of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, it was a much smaller event and that helped Sacred Heart Prep, which could count on its depth. In addition to Facey, who also placed sixth in the 500 free, the Gators have four other water polo players who swim only in high school and all of them scored.

"The smaller number of swimmers this year worked out fine for us because of our depth, but to be honest we probably had a better team last year when the meet was canceled," Morris said, pointing out that Sloane Reinstein was with the team. Reinstein just completed her freshman year at Georgia, where she qualified for the NCAAs.

"I give a lot of the credit for this to the tradition of the team," Morris said. "With such a wacky season, we were able to hold some semblance of normalcy because of the culture of hard work and dedication the upperclassmen pass along to the underclassmen ... it has been a slow journey to get a bit better every year."

SHP's 200 free relay team, of Brie Lang, Bella Bachler, Gibbons and J-Cheng, was third and the 400 free relay (Lang, Gibbons, Woodhead, Li) placed fourth.

Lang was the consolation champion in the 50 free. Water polo players Bachler and Kate Brandin also scored in the event.

Katelyn Chan and Jessica Calderoni also contributed to the team's total

Scafetta scored her points finishing fourth in both the 200 IM and 100 breast.

In addition to having the top two divers in the section, Castilleja also has a promising freshman in Olivia Detter, who was third in the 100 fly (56.15) and second in the 50 free (23.68). Georgia Wluka, Nina Fearon and Serfina Cortez also scored for Castilleja.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys placed fourth, with Bellarmine winning, followed by St. Francis and Valley Christian.

Top individuals were Hugo Thomas and Cole Ballard placing 4-5 in the 500 free and Gavin West swimming in the championship finals of the 50 free and 100 free.

Will Swart, Conrad Ma and Will McGaughery contributed on the relays.

Girls soccer

Stella El-Fishaway changed the complexion of Menlo's girls soccer game against visiting Soquel on Saturday and it led to a Central Coast Section Division I championship.

El-Fishaway scored three times in Menlo's 5-0 victory over visiting Soquel as the Knights claimed their sixth CCS title since 2012 and ninth overall.

Menlo was ahead 1-0 midway through the second half when Knights goalie Sam Sellers was issued a yellow card and had to leave the game. It was just outside the penalty box and Soquel had a unique opportunity to tie the game.

Instead, a steady wall of Menlo players ("Don't jump," yelled Menlo coach Ross Ireland) stayed put and forced a shot high over the net.

Menlo (10-0-1) went on the attack and a minute later had a scoring opportunity. The Soquel goalie came out to challenge the ball and blocked it but could not control it. El-Fishaway got the rebound and tapped it into an open net.

From that moment, it was all Menlo. Carolina Espinosa, El-Fishaway and Colby Wilson added goals in the final 15 minutes of play.

"We overcame a lot, so just being able to hold the trophy and celebrate with your closest friends, it's just an amazing feeling," El-Fishawy said. "With the limited practice and the limited games, we were able to form that chemistry and that bond together. I think we've played together at least once in high school or club and to have that knowledge of each other and I think that just added to the chemistry we had."

Menlo's defense proved the star of the contest as Soquel (12-2-1) rarely found an opening. The free kick was Soquel's best scoring opportunity.

"Overwhelming team performance with discipline. We followed instructions about how to handle the opponent and once we scored, the confidence grew," Ireland said. "We just had even more fluency; there was a spring to their step and absolute belief that they could win at that point. Sometimes a team really brings it, and when they hit form in the final game, I couldn't ask for more. Great individual performances, brilliant team performance."

El-Fishaway put the Knights ahead, scoring in the 11th minute after taking a pass from Julie Deffner.

Gabby Kogler and Madison Li assisted on Espinosa's goal, Wilson aided El-Fishaway's second goal and Kogler assisted on Wilson's goal.

"We thought they would come out very physical and aggressive because we had heard from other teams, and I think they did that," El-Fishaway said. "But I think we were able to match their physicality this game, connect the passes, playing quickly and just tried to get forward and take our chances."

Deffner, El-Fishawy, Siena Gavin, Ellie Gruber, Kogler and Claire Pickering played their final matches in a Menlo uniform.

Boys soccer

Sacred Heart Prep, who finished second to Menlo in West Bay Athletic League boys soccer, took it to the next level during Central Coast Section play.

Despite earning the No. 7 seed and playing all three matches on the road, the Gators kept battling and capped their season with a 3-1 victory over host Evergreen Valley in the title match of Division II.

It's the first outright CCS soccer title for Sacred Heart Prep in 15 years and the seventh overall. SHP and Menlo shared a title in 2013.

After a scoreless first half, in which a potential SHP goal was negated by an offside call, the Gators struck in the first three minutes of the second half.

Chase Dolinko started the scoring sequence, getting the ball to Tristan Mische-Reed, who fed it to Kyle Nilsson for the score.

Dolinko made it 2-0 with nine minutes remaining, converting a penalty after Nilsson was fouled in the penalty box.

Evergreen Valley got one back with three minutes left, converting its own penalty kick.

With time running down and Evergreen Valley on the attack, Luke Maxwell somehow scored an unassisted goal to make it 3-1.

Last season, Sacred Heart Prep made it to the finals of the Open Division before falling to Bellarmine. The Gators (10-3) were also the runners-up in 2015.

Boys tennis

The Menlo School boys tennis team has developed quite a rivalry with teams from the West Catholic Athletic League and Bellarmine in particular.

The last time the two teams met, in Los Gatos, for the Central Coast Section team title, Bellarmine took home the championship trophy.

This year, the trophy stays at Menlo. Juniors Soren Sutaria and Nik Khuntia, competing at No. 1 doubles, were the last men standing May 27 with the score 3-3 and both sides watching intently.

Sutaria and Khuntia's match went to a tiebreaker following an intense second set that saw the Bells squeeze out a 7-6 (4) win.

And this time, instead of using rally scoring, the third set was played out so that it really was 'game, set and match,' as the Menlo juniors worked a 6-2 victory, setting in motion a flood of Knights onto the court to celebrate a 4-3 win at Menlo.

"Every time we play them, it's a battle," Menlo senior co-captain Justin Tian said. "It was a match we really wanted to win. We worked really hard for it."

It was a satisfying finish to an undefeated, though abbreviated, season. Menlo (12-0) was the top seed, earning it home court advantage. No. 2 Bellarmine (12-2) delivered a quality championship match. The Bells only lost to Menlo this season.

Junior Rishi Jain was first off the court with a straight-set win at No, 4 singles. Menlo tied the score again at 2 when junior Mick Tamas also won in straight sets at No. 2 singles.

The Bells took a doubles match to go up 3-2 before freshman Evan Burnett secured the win at No. 3 singles.

The teams have played for the title six times in the last 12 years with Menlo winning five of them.

For the Knights, avenging the last loss to the Bells in a section final two years ago, and then coming back after a season lost to the pandemic, winning a title couldn't have made for a better ending, especially for the seniors.

"Last year, having our season cut short was pretty sad, especially because we stopped playing right before our big tournaments," Tian said. "It was really disappointing. And, at the beginning of this school year, it looked like we wouldn't even be able to play at all, but it all worked out and I'm really glad we got to play this year. Being able to play CCS this year was a blessing."

Menlo won its 16th CCS title overall.

Menlo Athletics' Pam Tso McKenney contributed to this report.

Girls tennis

Bill Shine was forced into double duty last month. With both of his Menlo tennis teams reaching the championship match of the Central Coast Section team tennis tournament, he rarely had a minute to himself.

"We've had a match every day this week," Shine said May 28 after watching the Harker girls beat the Knights, 6-1, for its first-ever CCS title. "It's been tough."

Harker dominated the CCS tournament, winning its four matches by a combined 27-1. Menlo's Brynn Brady and C.C. Golub kept the Eagles from running the table with their 6-3, 6-1 victory at No. 1 doubles.

Two other matches went three sets. Menlo's No. 1 singles player Addie Ahlstr?m, who will be competing for Brown University in the fall, recovered from a first set loss to force a third set.

Ahlstrom played 5-star recruit Emily Novikov at the top of the ladder. Novikov is rated by some recruiting services as the 15th best recruit in California. Ahlstr?m is rated 28th.

"This is a super special season for us because it was a season we didn't think we were going to have, and we just appreciated it that much more," Ahlstr?m said. "We were just outplayed today. Still, I was honored that this could be my final match and be playing in something that means so much."

The No. 3 doubles team of Natalie Westermann and Alexandra Viret also went the distance.

"It hurts to go out on this note," Ahlstr?m said, "but I'm so thankful for everything that Menlo has given me these past four years and I couldn't be happier with my time here."

Ahlstr?m, along with fellow captains Lindsey Ball and Lindsey Canessa, and Penelope Anderson, Siena Bundy and Elisabeth Westermann made up a core of six seniors.

"It does make it harder," Shine said. "I mean, losing any senior feels the same but now I'm sad six times over losing them. They absolutely did a fantastic job. Give them credit, they do all the hard work. I enjoy being around them. They've had success because they came to practice ready to work."

After missing the 2020 season because of the pandemic, the Menlo girls will get two seasons in 2021. The returning players will be back for more in about three months, since girls tennis is normally a fall sport.

Shine held a girls practice minutes after the boys won their CCS title May 27. Shine took a few moments to savor the team's 16th title and then turned his attention to the girls.

Shine isn't really forced into anything. Given a choice he'd be on the courts rain or, well, let's skip the pun.

At times he seems to wilt under the wear and tear of three decades of coaching. That's a mirage. A few former players visited with him during and after the match and it's like they never left. He honestly enjoys the visits and the chance to reconnect.

"We'll be right back at it next season," Shine said smiling.

Track and field

Freshman Annie Pflaum was a double winner in the 800 and 1,600 to help lead the Menlo-Atherton girls to a second-place finish at the Peninsula Athletic League track and field championships.

Jeremiah Earby won the long jump, placed third in the 400 and anchored both relay teams for the M-A boys, who took third place in the team standings.

Katherine Sheldon was a big points winner for the Woodside girls, winning the long jump and triple jump and taking second in the 300 hurdles to help the Wildcats to a third-place team finish.

Aragon won both boys and girls team titles.

Pflaum's winning times were 2:23.19 in the 800 and 5:09.56 in the 1,600.

"It wasn't a surprise,'' said M-A first-year head coach Aisha Swayzer. "She's getting better every week.''

Earby, a wide receiver and defensive back on the M-A football team who has received several Division I football offers in recent weeks, went 21-0 to win the long jump.

"He ran track as a freshman then came back this year,'' Swayzer said. "It's like he never left. Every week he goes a foot farther.''

The M-A 4x100 relay team of Joseph Flood, Sebastian Sanchez Delope, Myles Jackson and Earby took first place in 44.60.

Malia Latu, who splits her time between the M-A basketball and track teams, won the 200 in 26.66, just ahead of teammate Annie Wagner (26.84). Latu, who also placed third in the 400, anchored the 4x400 relay team to a win in 4:15.50. Kendell Olesen, Tatum Olesen and Wagner were the other members of the team.

Sheldon had winning marks of 16-9.75 in the long jump and 33-0 in the triple jump. She was timed in 48.0 in her second-place finish in the 300 hurdles.

"She's the best female athlete I've seen for her size,'' Woodside coach Chris Pedrin said of the 4-foot-10 Sheldon.

The Woodside 4x100 team of Jullian Peterson, Katherine Meade, Sheldon and freshman Ava Brooks took first place in 52.25.

"They can go faster,'' Pedrin said. "What a great group of athletes to work with.''

Meade also took an individual championship in the high jump (5-0) and placed second in the 400.

—Rick Eymer

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