Pinewood falters in 4th quarter

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pinewood School’s Jaeden Bailey drives to the basket, defended by Woodside Priory’s Matt Boyle, a Los Altos resident.

Once the momentum swayed Woodside Priory’s way, it seemed there was nothing the Pinewood School boys basketball team could do to stop it.

Priory erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, tying the game with 12 seconds to play on an NBA-range 3-pointer from Ayo Aderboye. The 6-foot-6 junior then made a steal near midcourt and raced to the rim for a dunk with two ticks left, lifting his team to a 58-56 home win.

“They made a couple of amazing plays,” said Pinewood coach Jason Peery, whose team was outscored 24-12 in the fourth. “Aderboye made two unbelievable plays – an incredible shot from pro range, contested, and it went in, and then they steal the ball. Incredible ending.”

As the Priory fans stormed the court to celebrate with their team, the Pinewood players stood stunned.

“It was brutal,” said senior Matt Peery, who paced Pinewood with 22 points. “The shots they missed in the third, they started hitting in the fourth. You’ve got to hand it to them for hitting them. When they started hitting shots, they had a lot of momentum.”

Over the first three quarters, Priory shot 3-for-16 on 3s; the host team went 5-for-9 in the fourth. Los Altos resident Matt Boyle got it started, burying back-to-back 3s early in the period. They were part of an 11-0 run by Priory, which went up 47-46 with 5:23 remaining.

Pinewood responded with a 5-0 run featuring Connor Riches’ 3 from the top of the key and Jaeden Bailey’s jumper from just above the foul line with 3:11 left. Riches finished with 14 points.

After Priory’s Nico Arslaner split free throws, Pinewood extended its lead to 53-48 on Peery’s breakaway layup.

Priory countered with a 3 from Henry Wise and continued to dog Pinewood with pressure defense. An actual dog tried to help the home team, running onto the floor and toward the ball as Pinewood crossed half court on its next possession. After play resumed, Pinewood missed a pair of 3-point tries and Priory’s Emmanuel Ajanaku-Makun dropped in a hook shot from the middle of the paint to tie the contest at 53 with 1:16 to go.

Peery answered with a 3 from the right side – despite having a defender in his face – to put Pinewood back on top with a minute left.

That proved to be the last shot Pinewood would make – or take – in the game. After a defensive stop, Pinewood made back-to-back turnovers that resulted in Aderboye’s 3-pointer and game-deciding dunk.

Pinewood committed 20 turnovers Friday, including five in the fourth.

“Tonight we didn’t take care of the ball the way we needed to in order to close this one out or open up the big 10-point lead that we had,” Jason Peery said.

The coach’s son helped Pinewood build that lead in the third quarter. Matt Peery poured in nine points, starting with a pair of fastbreak layups, during Pinewood’s 17-0 run to close the period. Cache Fields’ trey from the right baseline gave Pinewood a 44-34 advantage heading into the fourth.

Pinewood’s inability to hold that lead – and losing in such stunning fashion – only increased Matt Peery’s desire for a rematch.

“I’m ready to play them in the playoffs,” he said. “I want them again.”

The rivals played an overtime game last month, which Pinewood pulled out 80-74 at home. If the teams meet in the Central Coast Section playoffs, Priory would surely be the higher-seeded team. Priory sits in second place in the West Bay Athletic League at 9-3 (17-5 overall), while Pinewood has slipped to fifth at 6-6 (13-9 overall).

“We need to be at our best at the end of February and in March, and that’s what we’re still going for,” said Jason Peery, whose squad upset first-place Menlo earlier in the week. “We don’t have time to dwell on how this one ended. We’ve got to go get better tomorrow and get ready for next week.”

Pinewood is scheduled to host Harker 5:30 p.m. Thursday to conclude the regular season.

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