The first quarter belonged to Homestead High, but the Los Altos High boys basketball team settled down in the second and took off in the third en route to a 52-34 home win Friday night.
Up a point at halftime, the Eagles outscored the Mustangs 15-0 in the third period and maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game.
“I feel we weren’t playing up to our capabilities on defense at first,” said Los Altos point guard Nolan Brennan, whose team trailed 13-8 after the opening quarter, “but we really picked it up starting in the third quarter when we didn’t even give up a point.”
That’s the fourth time this season the Eagles (7-3 league, 14-8 overall) have held an opponent scoreless in a quarter.
“It’s amazing,” coach Trevor Naas said. “If these guys really lock in, we can be pretty darn good on the defensive end.”
Los Altos blocked two of Homestead’s eight shots in the third and forced four turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Eagles made five of their eight shots – including a 3-for-4 effort from beyond the arc. Los Altos opened the quarter with an inside basket by center Simon Heck, set up by a pass from guard Zach Espiritu, followed by back-to-back baseline 3s from Brennan.
“My teammates did a great job pushing the ball when I was in the corner,” said Brennan, who finished with 16 points. “Right as I got it, I knew both were going in, so I just shot them.”
The Eagles’ lead held at 30-21 for the next three and a half minutes, a stretch in which the Mustangs (3-8, 8-15) managed just two shots. Los Altos ended its dry spell on a pair of free throws by Heck and scored on its next two possessions – courtesy of a drive by Jake Shab and a trey from Matt Eberle – to go up 37-21 at quarter’s end. Forward Shab totaled 17 points to lead all scorers Friday and swingman Eberle added 11.
“Our offense kind of fed off of our defense,” Naas said. “Nolan hit a couple big shots at the start of the third, and it just seemed to click from there.”
Eric Sonobe’s floater to open the fourth ended Homestead’s nearly 11-minute scoring drought, but Shab scored the next three points (free throw and fastbreak layup) to put the Eagles up 40-23. The Mustangs got as close as 10 when Carson Chou drained a 3 midway through the period, only to see Los Altos answer with a 10-0 run that sealed the win. Brennan ignited the spurt by scoring consecutive buckets inside the paint, then Eberle and Espiritu each buried a 3.
The Eagles enter this last week of the regular season in second place and looking to go into the Central Coast Section playoffs on a roll.
“We are 7-3 right now, so obviously our goal is to get two more wins to end the season,” Brennan said. “We want to go into CCS strong, hopefully with the highest seed we can, and make a run at the championship.”
Naas shared some of those sentiments.
“I like where we’re at right now,” the team’s second-year coach said. “We just keep telling the guys to kind of focus on one day at a time, one practice at a time. We want to keep building this thing and be ready for hopefully a good run in CCS.”
Los Altos is scheduled to visit Los Gatos 7 p.m. today and close league play 7:45 p.m. Friday at home against rival Mountain View.