The Los Altos High girls basketball team appears to have regained its momentum just in time for the playoffs.
The Eagles, who followed a 14-game winning streak with three straight losses, rebounded last week by beating Cupertino and Santa Clara to cap league play.
Friday’s 52-33 rout of visiting Santa Clara guaranteed Los Altos a tie for second place (with Monta Vista) in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division at 9-3.
“Of course everyone always wants the league title, but you have to earn that league title – and we didn’t do enough to earn it,” said coach Jaclyn Brode, whose team was the only one in the division to beat champ Saratoga. “That’s fine; we’ll take a playoff berth. We’re excited.”
Los Altos (17-6 overall) enters the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs as the eighth seed – the last spot granted a first-round bye. The Eagles are scheduled to host No. 9 Willow Glen (8-15) or unseeded Leland (13-13) 7 p.m. Thursday. The winner advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals to face top-seeded St. Francis (14-11) at Christopher High in Gilroy (time to be determined).
“We’ve nicknamed Division II the ‘Division of Death’ because of everyone that’s in it,” Brode said. “It looks like the strongest division outside of the Open (featuring the top eight teams in CCS). So it’s definitely good to go into it after a night like this.”
Brode started her five healthy seniors Friday, in honor of Senior Night, and they helped the Eagles to a 13-9 lead after one quarter.
“The girls were just relaxed and having a good time out there,” the coach said.
The sophomores took over in the second quarter, leading Los Altos on an 18-2 run from which Santa Clara (4-8 league, 14-10 overall) never recovered. They accounted for the Eagles’ first eight points: guard Katie Munro opened it by nailing a jumper, forward Meg Enthoven scored on a follow-up shot and guard Allegra Maeso made back-to-back buckets (jump shot and putback).
Enthoven scored five of her 11 points in the period.
Senior guard Kelly Hamamoto closed the quarter with a 3-pointer from the right wing, putting Los Altos up 31-11 at halftime.
That proved to be the last 3-point shot the Eagles would make, but they didn’t need any.
Los Altos did most of its damage in the paint – particularly center Meghan McDermott. The senior made a three-point play the hard way – sinking a free throw after getting fouled on a low-post basket – for the Eagles’ first points of the third quarter. McDermott added eight points in the fourth and finished with a team-high 15.
McDermott and Enthoven controlled the glass, grabbing nine rebounds each.
“I thought we had a lot more patience on the offensive end – a lot more spacing,” Brode said. “Our defense brought it, as always, and we were going after the ball, making sure they only got one shot.”
After the first quarter, Los Altos held Santa Clara to eight-of-31 shooting (26 percent).
Spartans seeded sixth
The Mountain View girls, who moved from Division II to I this year (based on school size), are slated to open the CCS playoffs 7 p.m. Thursday at home. The sixth-seeded Spartans (13-11) await the winner of the first-round game between No. 11 Salinas (15-9) and unseeded Alisal (15-9).
Thursday’s victor meets No. 3 Palo Alto (11-12) Saturday in the quarterfinals at Gunn (time to be determined).
Pinewood makes Open
Based on their 24-2 record, the Pinewood girls have been chosen to compete in the eight-team CCS Open Division playoffs.
The fourth-seeded Panthers are set to face No. 5 Presentation (16-10) 5:30 p.m. Friday at Gunn.
2013 girls basketball: Los Altos High School vs. Santa Clara High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier