Six local basketball teams remain in the running for Central Coast Section titles this week, but the competition gets considerably tougher in the semifinals.
The No. 3-seeded Menlo School boys (18-7) will play host to No. 2 Palma (19-6) on Tuesday in the Knights' gym in one CCS Division IV semifinal on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. In the first semifinal, No. 1 Seaside (20-3) will face No. 4 Half Moon Bay (21-6) at 5:30 p.m. The winners will play Friday for the section title, with both finalists advancing to the CIF NorCal playoffs next week.
Menlo reached the semifinals following a 53-46 win over No. 6 Harker in the quarterfinals Saturday. No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep (17-9), meanwhile, was eliminated after a 54-50 loss to Half Moon Bay.
Also on Tuesday, the Pinewood and Eastside Prep boys will be looking to advance in the Division V playoffs at Alma Heights in Pacifica.
Second-seeded and defending section champion Pinewood (12-11) will take on No. 3 St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic (17-10) at 7:30 p.m. In the first semifinal, No. 4 Eastside Prep (15-12) will meet No. 1 Alma Heights (25-3) at 5:30 p.m. The winners will play for the section title on Friday at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont at 8 p.m.
Pinewood advanced with a 58-32 win over No. 7 Crystal Springs while Eastside Prep moved on with a 49-38 win over No. 5 East Palo Alto Academy in quarterfinals Saturday.
The Menlo-Harker game was the third meeting this season between the West Bay Athletic League rivals. The teams split their regular-season showdowns.
The Knights got contributions from a host of players, including junior Ryan Young, He scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter while and sophomore Liam Dunn hit some key shots in the fourth and finished with 14 points.
"It was fun tonight," Menlo coach Delandro Leday said. "The heart of our team is that any day, we have three or more guys who can score. We don't have have to count on just one or two guys, and it's really been helpful. We put it all together tonight."
The Knights took back the lead in the third quarter, thanks to some long-range shots by Young. Dunn then sank some three-pointers of his own, including one that put the Knights up by five. He then drove to the basket and scored to give his team a seven-point lead.
"The players call him 'The Waiter' because he serves it up," Leday said of Dunn. "He hit some big shots and was our catalyst in the fourth quarter."
The Knights led 22-16 at the halftime despite Harker's late second-quarter run.
"They killed us on the offensive rebounds and a number of times, we didn't box out," Leday said.
The Eagles led by four in the third quarter before the Knights tightened up on defense and Ryan Young nailed some three-pointers to finish with 10 points in the quarter.
In other boys' action Tuesday, Palo Alto (23-2) will look to bounce back from its first loss after 21 wins when the No. 5-seeded Vikings take on No. 8 Soquel in the consolation bracket of the CCS Open Division at Independence High in San Jose at 5:30 p.m. A victory will put Paly in the fifth-place game on Thursday at the highest seed. No matter what happens, Palo Alto will compete in the NorCal Division I playoffs next week.
In the girls' CCS playoffs, Gunn will be joined by Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep in the semifinals this week.
The top-seeded and defending champion Titans (17-6) will take on No. 4 Piedmont Hills on Wednesday in the semifinals at Santa Teresa High at 7:30 p.m. In the other semifinal, No. 7 Evergreen Valley will face No. 6 San Benito at 5:30 p.m. The winners will meet in the title game Saturday at Santa Clara High at 1 p.m.
Gunn reached the semifinals with a 43-21 win over No. 8 Milpitas in a quarterfinal on Saturday at Hartnell College in Salinas. Zoe Zwerling had 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Titans while Olivia Tapia added 12 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Senior point guard Claire Klausner returned to the Gunn lineup after missing a handful of games due to illness. She provided seven points, four offensive rebounds and three steals as Gunn forced the Trojans into 26 turnovers. The Titans grabbed a 27-11 halftime lead.
In Division IV, No. 2-seeded Menlo School (18-9) will take on No. 3 Scotts Valley (17-10) on Tuesday at Notre Dame-Belmont at 5:30 p.m. In the second semifinal, No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep (20-8) will face No. 1 Soquel (25-2) at 7:30 p.m. The winners will play Friday in the finals at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont.
Menlo cruised to a 70-47 victory over Mercy-San Francisco in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Knights made it clear that they were ready despite a week-long layoff as they jumped out to a 21-2 lead during the first quarter and didn't let up.
Menlo junior Maddy Price shot 75 percent from the field and scored a team-high 19 points. She also grabbed 11 rebounds and had five steals. Menlo senior Lauren Lete sank four three-pointers and finished with 16 points and five assists.
USC-bound Drew Edelman also scored 16 and pulled down six rebounds. The Knights also got big contributions across the board with senior Maila Bates and freshman MacKenzie Duffner each getting seven rebounds apiece while Kaelen Dunn hit three treys and finishing with nine points.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, got 18 points from Melissa Holland and 14 from fellow senior Helen Gannon in a 50-36 quarterfinal win over Gunderson. The Gators pulled away with a 30-16 advantage over the second and third quarters.
In other playoff action this week, No. 4 Eastside Prep and No. 7 Pinewood will compete in the consolation semifinals of the Open Division bracket.
Eastside Prep (21-7) will face top-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral (20-6) at Oak Grove High on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Pinewood (20-7) will face No. 3 St. Ignatius (18-9) in the earlier game at 5:30 p.m. Those winners will face each other for fifth place on Thursday at the highest seed.