Panthers send a message

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pinewood’s Hannah Jump lays up a shot in Friday’s victory over Menlo. The senior scored a game-high 35 points.

Friday night, the Pinewood School girls basketball team seemed to silence any talk of Menlo challenging the Panthers for supremacy in the West Bay Athletic League this year. If the Knights are indeed gaining ground on Pinewood, it’s by inches – not feet.

The Panthers dismantled Menlo 75-36 to break the first-place tie between them. The game was close for a quarter, but host Pinewood – which routed the Knights by 39 and 47 points last year – pulled away in the second period and the lead ballooned from there.

Pinewood sharpshooter Hannah Jump nearly outscored Menlo, pouring in 35 points. The Stanford-bound senior made eight of the Panthers’ 17 3-pointers.

“Menlo is a really great team – they came out with a lot of energy in the first quarter,” said Jump, who finished one point shy of her season high. “But we knew that they may stay with us for a quarter or so, but in the second quarter and the third quarter, we knew that we were just going to run away with it.”

The Knights went up 14-13 on Georgia Paye’s free throw with 23 seconds left in the opening quarter, but that lead would be their last. Jump answered with a 3 that took a friendly bounce off the rim before falling in with time winding down in the period.

Jump, who nailed a trio of treys in the first quarter, added three more in the second. Two of those shots bookended a 12-0 run by the Panthers (5-0 league, 15-1 overall). Klara Astrom and Isabelle Chung also hit 3s during the spurt, which put Pinewood up 33-18.

By halftime, Jump already had 20 points and the Panthers held a 38-24 advantage.

“Anytime Hannah gets clean looks and gets in a rhythm – and a rhythm means she’s getting lots of shots – it spells trouble for the other team,” Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said.

Especially when that team dares to play zone defense, which Menlo (1-4, 15-2) did at times in the second half. Jump drained two 3s in the third quarter, part of a 20-0 run that put the game away. The Panthers shot 5-for-10 from distance in the period, with Astrom also burying a pair of 3s and Kaitlyn Leung accounting for the other.

“I think once we start hitting 3s, our confidence in each other is huge,” said Jump, who put up 13 points in the third. “And they started to zone up a little bit, and we’re shooters – so if you zone us, you’re going to pay for it – and we hit our shots tonight.”

The Panthers finished 17-of-46 from distance (37 percent), well above their surprisingly low season average (30 percent).

“It’s nice to see us get in a rhythm and a flow that we haven’t been in,” Scheppler said, “because sometimes teams play us in a way where they take away all the perimeter 3s and things like that, so we’re forced to finish plays at the rim.”

Pinewood did that, too. A cutting Astrom scored inside off a nice pass from Jump in the opening quarter for the first of her 13 points. The Yale-bound senior opened the second quarter by driving left for another layin.

Jump followed a breakaway layup in the third by making a drive while being fouled. Her free throw extended the Panthers’ advantage to 54-29 with 3:41 remaining in the quarter.

Jump made another fastbreak layup in the first minute of the fourth. Annika Decker’s successful drive on Pinewood’s next possession pushed the lead to 66-30, prompting Scheppler to empty his bench.

Chung led the reserves with eight points and freshman Valentina Saric added four. Only Jump, Astrom and Leung (nine points) scored more for Pinewood.

Although the Panthers won in lopsided fashion, Scheppler applauded the Knights’ effort.

“I like Menlo’s team. I like how scrappy they were – they played really hard,” the coach said. “They didn’t back down. … They made us beat them.”

The teams are scheduled to meet again Feb. 8 at Menlo.

Pinewood has three games scheduled this week – all on the road. The Panthers were set to face Eastside Prep Tuesday (after the Town Crier’s press deadline), Sacred Heart Prep Thursday (3:30 p.m. tip-off) and go outside of league to play Salesian of Richmond Saturday (7 p.m.).

“(This) is a pretty challenging week for us,” said Scheppler, whose squad is ranked fourth in the state and seventh in the nation by MaxPreps.

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