The Los Altos High girls basketball team engaged in a defensive struggle with Sequoia Saturday night in the Central Coast Section Division I final – and the Eagles struggled more.
Top-seeded Los Altos fell 36-32, flustered by the third-seeded Ravens’ defensive strategy.
“Their two-three zone was really tough,” said Eagles coach Erik Stuart, whose team committed 21 turnovers and made only 12 of its 37 field-goal attempts. “They’re just really long and they’re really disciplined. Their zone is tight, and they move their feet and they keep their arms wide, and we struggled to score.”
Guard Jamie Baum scored a game-high 17 points for host Los Altos (13-4), but they didn’t come easy; Sequoia’s guards double-teamed her almost every time she touched the ball. The Ravens (8-1) also excelled at defending the passing lanes – coming up with several steals – and protecting the paint with 6-foot-3 center Aniyah Hall standing tall in the middle.
Hall’s job was made easier after Macy Watson, the Eagles’ best post player, got in early foul trouble.
“Macy got her second foul after, like, three minutes and then her third foul early in the second (quarter),” said Stuart, whose squad trailed 22-12 at halftime. “And that was really too bad, because we had trouble defending (Hall). If she doesn’t get those fouls called on her, we may win this game.”
In limited minutes, 6-foot freshman Watson totaled four points – the last two coming on a low-post shot to start the scoring in the fourth quarter. That cut Sequoia’s lead to 30-25, but the Ravens twice built it back to seven points before Los Altos put together a last-gasp run.
With a minute to play, Aliyah McPherson swished a 3 from the left baseline and then Baum buried a midrange jumper in transition that cut the deficit to 34-32 with 26 seconds remaining.
A turnover by the Ravens allowed the Eagles a chance to tie or go ahead, but they gave the ball right back with a miscue of their own (backcourt violation).
With time running out, Los Altos had no choice but to foul. Sequoia’s Jacqueline Kurland sank both free throws to ensure the win with 2.4 ticks on the clock.
While disappointed in the result, Stuart said it didn’t diminish everything the Eagles accomplished this season. Behind seniors Baum, McPherson and Mone Sekiguchi – who played Saturday’s game with a stress fracture in her foot, according to the coach – Los Altos finished third in the SCVAL De Anza Division and advanced to the CCS finals for only the second time in school history (the first time was 1993).
“We’re pretty proud to have tied for the best finish in school history,” said Stuart, hired last summer. “These seniors are a special group, and it’ll be hard to match what they’ve accomplished on the court.”
Lancers lose Division II final
Second-seeded St. Francis rallied late, but it wasn’t enough to top No. 1 Lynbrook, which won Saturday’s CCS Division II final 54-47.
The Lancers, down by as many as 13 points, got as close as three in the final minute.
Natalija Grizelj finished with 18 points for visiting St. Francis (5-9).