San Francisco Chronicle
Pinewood girls drawing closer to CCS title game
It’s been an unusually cold and hot season for the Pinewood-Los Altos girls basketball team.
On Monday, the Panthers continued that trend, and now they are just one win away from likely facing a familiar foe — Mitty — for the Central Coast Section Open Division championship.
Pinewood and Mitty have played for the Open Division title each of the past five seasons. Mitty has won four of those meetings.
Pinewood, the third seed, scored just 2 points in the first quarter and trailed 20-16 at halftime before catching fire in the second half to post a 54-46 Pool B home win over upstart Palo Alto.
The Panthers got another huge game from 5-foot-10 senior post Ava Uhrich (15 points, 14 rebounds) along with nine 3pointers as a team to improve to 15-10 overall and 2-0 in pool play.
They just need a win Wednesday at second-seed Sacred Heart Cathedral to advance to Friday’s championship game, most likely against Mitty, at Santa Clara’s Leavey Center.
Seventh-seed Palo Alto (19-6, 1-1) had shocked host Sacred Heart Cathedral 68-51 on Friday. The Irish responded Monday with a 66-52 win over St. Ignatius.
The Vikings’ zone defense gave Pinewood fits early before the Panthers finally found the range.
“We didn’t expect their zone,” Panthers’ coach Doc Scheppler told John Reid of SBLive Sports. “We were surprised by it. We had a slow start from the standpoint of not being comfortable. We shot 9-of-39 3-pointers. That’s not great. We were out of sorts in that first half.”
But the perimeter game, which has led the Panthers to five state titles, came through led by Alex Facelo and Jolyn Ding, who each drilled three 3pointers and both finished with 13 points.
Palo Alto hung tough behind Kaella Peters, who had four 3pointers of her own and finished with a game-high 16 points.
The game see-sawed most of the fourth quarter before a Ding 3-pointer put Pinewood in control. Her free throws down the stretch sealed it.
“We had more of a sense of urgency in the second half,” Ding told Reid. “We were getting loose balls. Our shots started going in. The game opened up.”
It’s been an odd year for the Panthers. They opened the season 1-4, won four straight, lost three of four, won three of four and then were blown out 71-31 by North Coast Section power Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa. Since then, they’ve won five of six.
Scheppler enjoyed Monday’s win thoroughly.
“In the fourth quarter, there were three or four possessions from each team where it was they hit a three, we hit a two, they hit a two, we hit a three. It was fun,” he said.
In Pool A play, Mitty defeated Branham 78-24 and Crystal Springs knocked off Los Gatos 39-25.
So who moves on from Pool B? If Sacred Heart Cathedral wins Wednesday and St. Ignatius defeats Palo Alto, SHC would advance to Friday’s championship game based on a two-way tiebreaker (head-tohead). If SHC and Palo Alto win Wednesday (creating a threeway tie), Palo Alto wins a complicated tiebreaker based on wins over higher seeds.
In CCS boys Open Pool A play Monday, No. 4 Serra defeated No. 8 Santa Cruz 65-53 and No. 1 Mitty beat St. Ignatius 67-43. That improved Serra and Mitty to 2-0 and the two teams will face off on Wednesday at Mitty.
Ryan Pettis had 22 points for Serra and Derek Sangster led Mitty with 23 points.
In Pool B play, second-seed Riordan defeated Menlo-Atherton 58-53 thanks to 16 points from Achilles Woodson, and Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton beat Sacred Heart Cathedral 61-59 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by TJ O’Brien (16 points).
Sacred Heart Cathedral, which got 16 points from JP Kerrigan, defeated Riordan 58-49 on Friday still has a shot at winning Pool B and advancing to Friday’s championship game. The Irish must beat Menlo-Atherton on Wednesday and hope Riordan beats Sacred Heart Prep. In a three-way tie, the Irish would win the tiebreaker. SHP, which opened with a Pool B bracket win over M-A, controls its own destiny.