Eagles eke by Spartans

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Jamie Baum shoots over Mountain View’s Fiona Huang in Saturday’s game. Baum scored a game-high 13 points.

The Los Altos High girls basketball team scored only two points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, and that was just enough to escape Mountain View High with a 32-30 non-league victory.

With the Eagles’ 14-point lead down to three with 90 seconds to play, guard Evelyn Baher-Murphy got free on the left baseline for a layin – nearly blocked by the Spartans’ 6-foot forward Audrey Telkamp – to give her team some breathing room.

“That’s a huge basket,” Los Altos coach Jaclyn Brode said. “I don’t know if the players were aware that they had scored zero (in the quarter) – hopefully they were – but the coaches were definitely aware, and we knew we weren’t going to get out of this game with a win scoring zero. That was the difference, so we really needed that.”

Mountain View cut its deficit to two on Sophie Waggoner’s 3-pointer from the right side of the arc with 20 seconds left, but that would be its last shot. The Spartans’ strategy – commit four fouls to put the Eagles in bonus and hope they would miss the free throw – worked, but it left them with only three seconds to score.

“We got the look we wanted, but we couldn’t get that last shot up in time,” Mountain View coach Xavier Cook said. “I think if we had two more seconds, that shot gets off and maybe we have a different situation.”

The Spartans’ situation at halftime was bleak; they trailed 23-12 after missing 18 of their 23 shots. Their only lead of the game came on Telkamp’s bank-in 3, which made it 5-4 with 5:38 to go in the opening quarter.

Rachel Barkan answered for the Eagles, draining a pull-up jumper that sparked a 9-0 run to close the period. Jamie Baum capped the quarter with a 3 from the left baseline and Alyssa Hamamoto sank one from the right baseline with two ticks left in the half to put Los Altos up 11.

“I think that we came out strong in the first quarter and we had lockdown defense,” said guard Baum, who finished with a game-high 13 points, “but I think we started struggling at the end.”

The Eagles, who had only eight players available Saturday, started to sputter after Ella Neugebauer made a mid-range jumper to put them up 28-14 with 4:56 remaining in the third. Mountain View scored 13 of the next 15 points, with Fiona Huang’s drive slicing the Spartans’ deficit to 30-27 with 1:57 to play.

“In the second half we came out and locked in on defense and started making stops,” Cook said.

Ultimately, it was the lack of successful shots – not stops – that led to Mountain View’s demise. The Spartans shot only 24.4 percent Saturday, and no player scored more than six points.

Brode credited her team’s defensive effort for much of that.

“It’s all about defense, and that’s kind of been our theme all year,” she said. “It’s what we’ve been focused on all year.”

The win boosted the Eagles’ record to 7-8 overall, while the Spartans fell to 11-3. Both teams are off to strong starts in their respective divisions of the SCVAL: Los Altos is 2-1 in the upper De Anza and Mountain View is 3-0 in the lower El Camino.

“Our goal is to go 12-0 (in the division),” Cook said.

Brode said her Eagles are focused on winning at least six games in the De Anza, making them eligible for the playoffs. Baum likes their chances.

“I think we can do pretty well,” she said. “We work hard and we work really well as a team.”

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