With so many local high school teams and individual athletes excelling on every level – league, section, region and even state – it was tough to whittle down the list of the Town Crier’s top sports stories of the year to only 10.
So, with apologies to those who missed the cut, here’s the countdown.
10 Los Altos High boys water polo team goes undefeated in league. The Eagles swam away with the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division title, winning all 14 games. Led by Kyle Sandell (133 goals), Los Altos entered the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs on a 20-game winning streak, snapped by Bellarmine in the quarterfinals.
9 Mountain View High girls volleyball team wins league without losing a set. The Spartans dominated the SCVAL El Camino Division, winning all 12 matches in straight sets to claim their first league title since 1990. Mountain View’s season came to an end in the CCS Division II final, as Presentation rallied for a five-set win. “We worked so hard and had a great season,” kill leader Eleonore Johansen said.
8 Pinewood School girls basketball team loses heartbreaker in regional semifinals. The Panthers’ fourth-quarter rally came up two points short against Cardinal Newman in the Northern California Open Division semifinals. Pinewood outscored the Cardinals 16-6 in the period but missed a pair of free throws in the waning seconds that enabled the visitors to escape with a 59-57 victory.
7 St. Francis High boys basketball team drops overtime game in regional final. The Lancers led Moreau Catholic by nine points midway through the NorCal Division II final, only to see the visiting Mariners come back to force overtime. St. Francis regained the lead behind four points from Logan Johnson (team-high 26 points), but Moreau answered again, prevailing 81-77.
6 Los Altos baseball team reaches CCS final. Behind the arm of Alex Reelfs and the bats of Ryan Buchner, Ben Parker and Max Higareda, the Eagles accomplished the improbable by making the CCS Division I final as the seventh seed. However, they couldn’t pull off the nearly impossible: beat top seed Westmont. The Warriors won 8-1, though Los Altos was the only team to score a run off them in the playoffs. The Eagles, in the final for the first time since 2011, finished 20-12-1. As coach Gabe Stewart said, “second in the section is nothing to be disappointed about.”
5 St. Francis boys cross-country team wins state. The Lancers not only won the state Division II title – they did so convincingly. Placing five runners in the top 30 – paced by third-place finisher Shyam Kumar – St. Francis beat runner-up Dublin by 54 points. The Lancers’ team time (78:42) ranks as the eighth-best effort by a Division II team at state.
4 Los Altos stuns Mountain View in CCS girls water polo final. The Eagles were 0-3 against the rival Spartans this year until the CCS Division I final at Independence. That’s where No. 2 Los Altos upset top seed Mountain View 9-8 for its first CCS title. Julia Santos scored four goals for the Eagles – who never trailed – and goalie Alex Warren finished with 11 saves, the last coming in the final minute.
3 Mountain View boys win first CCS basketball title. The Spartans’ first appearance in the final was a success, as they upended Valley Christian 70-58 to claim the Division II crown. Sam Tobin scored a game-high 21 points for top seed Mountain View and league MVP league Eugene Liao finished with 16, despite being plagued by foul trouble. “We knew this was our year,” guard Matt McTighe said. “We had 10 seniors coming in, and we knew we were going to get the title.”
2 Mountain View girls win second CCS soccer title in three years. Motivated by last year’s loss in the CCS Open Division final, the Spartans wouldn’t be denied this time. Second seed Mountain View never trailed No. 1 Mitty, prevailing 3-1. Karissa Hayes scored twice and Laura Carceroni tallied the Spartans’ other goal. “I’m just so happy for the girls,” coach Ivan Bandov said. “They deserved this night.”
1 St. Francis football team claims first state championship. Rebounding for a one-point loss to Serra in the CCS Open Division II final, the Lancers topped Manteca in the NorCal final before besting Grace Brethren 22-13 in the state Division 2-A title game in Sacramento. Reed Vettel threw two touchdown passes and the St. Francis defense held Grace Brethren to under 50 yards of offense in the second half (for a complete game recap, visit losaltosonline.com). “I think this is huge for (our seniors),” coach Greg Calcagno said. “You’re a winner ... You won the biggest thing you could when you were a senior in high school.”
– Chris Burton and Adrian Monroy contributed to this report.