During its 14-game winning streak, the Los Altos High girls basketball team overcame subpar shooting with toughness and tenacity.
The Eagles created turnovers with pressure defense, grabbed more than their share of rebounds for a team without a 6-footer and found their way to the foul line.
Friday night, however, Los Altos did not do those things well enough to compensate for its shooting woes against visiting Saratoga. The Falcons snapped the streak with a 51-37 victory that moved them into a first-place tie with the Eagles in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division at 7-1.
“We did not box out, we did not make our free throws and we turned the ball over,” Los Altos coach Jaclyn Brode said. “It’s a recipe for disaster no matter who you play.”
The Eagles secured just 18 rebounds against taller Saratoga, which scored 20 points in the paint. Los Altos did force 20 turnovers, but it committed 23. The Eagles made only six of its 16 free throws, missing their first five in a foul-infested first quarter.
The referees gave their whistles a workout in the opening quarter, calling 15 fouls. Most of those were on Saratoga; Los Altos was in the bonus with 4:44 left in the period.
Yet the Eagles (16-3 overall) failed to take advantage. Their lone lead came at 4-2 on a pair of free throws by Meghan McDermott (team-high 13 points) midway through the quarter.
Saratoga scored the next 14 points, a run that started and ended on 3-pointers by Dharini Ramaswamy and Samie Davey, respectively.
The Falcons connected on five of their six treys in the game; Los Altos made just one of seven.
Down 27-10 early in the second quarter, the Eagles rallied before halftime. Los Altos scored the final eight points, starting with a drive by Katie Munro. Rachel Glein followed with a jumper and McDermott scored the rest (inside basket and two free throws).
The Eagles, down 30-22 at intermission, wouldn’t threaten again. Saratoga opened the third quarter with a deep 3 by Ramaswamy (game-high 20 points) and kept Los Altos from getting closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Brode hopes the loss – the Eagles’ first in nearly two months – will teach her team something.
“The streak’s over and yeah, it was great,” she said. “But it’s better to lose now, I guess, than in the first round of the CCS (playoffs) or something like that. We’ll take our loss, we’ll learn from it, we’ll go back to work and get tougher.”
2013 girls basketball: Los Altos High School vs. Saratoga High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier