ATHERTON — It’s no secret that Menlo School wants to get the ball in the post to 6-foot-7, 210-pound junior Cole Kastner.
If anyone should know that fact it’s Sacred Heart Prep, which Friday night pulled off a 50-48 upset in overtime on the campus of its Atherton neighbor and rival.
“The game plan was obviously keep the ball out of Kastner’s hands,” SHP coach Tony Martinelli said. “He’s just a matchup nightmare and we don’t have a lot of guys that can stay with him one on one, so packing in the zone and doubling him whenever he got the ball is the way we practiced it — and it actually worked out pretty well.”
Menlo, which suffered just one loss the previous two years in the West Bay Athletic League, trailed 15-11 at the half after it was held to only two points in the second quarter — matching the offensive production from Kastner in the first half.
“When everything is on the line, we’ve got such a great crowd, such a great following and support out there, I’ve got to take it on me to just be more aggressive,” Kastner said. “The first half I think I only scored two points. That was my fault, I wasn’t moving around enough, I was getting the opportunities that we needed to score and I wasn’t putting our team in the best position.”
SHP (6-7, 3-1 WBAL) extended its lead to double digits in the third quarter and a 3-pointer by Harlan Banks with 7:29 left in the game made it 33-21.
But a sloppy end to regulation saw the Gators commit more than 10 turnovers down the stretch, allowing 25th-ranked Menlo (9-3, 2-1) to chip away at the deficit.
The comeback began with a 4-point play by Nate Solomon after he was fouled on a 3-pointer, then sophomore David Mead tied it at 35-all on a corner trey with 3:11 left as the student section went bonkers.
“This is what high school basketball should be about,” Martinelli said. “Especially in the preseason, we play in a lot of empty gyms. There’s not that type of energy level that you get from the crowd.”
SHP didn’t relinquish the lead in regulation and found itself ahead 42-37 after Brendan Carney, who finished with a team-high 12 points, sank a pair of free throws with 1:15 to go.
Menlo, though, wouldn’t go away.
Kastner scored four of his game-high 18 points in the final minute, including a layup off a turnover with 20 seconds left to force overtime at 42-all.
The junior put the Knights ahead twice in OT, only for SHP to pull even both times. A hook shot by Charlie Selna put the Gators ahead for good 48-46, then it was a matter of holding on for dear life as Menlo missed a corner trey for the win as time ran out.
“I never want them to get too high or too low,” said Martinelli, who felt confident about the way his team regrouped for the extra period. “So the way they responded, … they didn’t look panicked on the bench when they came back to it and looked like they still had a chance to win. The look in their eyes said it all.”
Girls: No. 11 Menlo 58, SHP 41
The Knights relied on a couple of 3-½ minute bursts to pull away from their rival, with a 16-0 run to end the first quarter and a 16-2 run to open the fourth quarter.
“When we get out in transition and making plays on defense it opens up the court and it’s really easier for us to score,” Menlo coach John Paye said.
Eight different players found the scoresheet for the Knights (14-1, 3-0 WBAL Foothill), who led 23-17 at halftime.
Menlo junior Maiea Makoni, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored 12 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to help turn a tight 33-31 contest into a rout.
“They presented us some trouble with their length and I know that Maiea was frustrated at different times because she’s really been shooting well and we just told her, ‘Be patient, be patient,’ “ Paye said. “And then finally we were able to break her free and then she delivered for us.”
“It’s so important to beat them every chance we get to play them,” Makoni said.
SHP (10-6, 1-3) got 16 points from junior Charlotte Levison, while Menlo countered with a game-high 18 points from sophomore Avery Lee, who went 8 of 11 from the charity stripe.
The blazing start to the season is not exactly something anyone predicted after the Knights graduated six seniors, including four starters.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Paye, who has three sophomores, a junior and a freshman in the starting lineup. “We had a great season last year, we played in the Open of the CCS and I was very sad to see my six seniors leave. And now they really set a standard of team togetherness that has helped this team play older than they are in years.”
Jovon McClanahan had 17 points and six rebounds and Shane Bell added 16 points and five rebounds to lead top-ranked Salesian to a 60-39 victory over No. 22 St. Patrick-St. Vincent in Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division play. Salesian also got 11 points and three steals from freshman Austin Johnson. The Pride improved to 18-0, 4-0. SPSV fell to 7-7, 2-2. … No. 24 Monte Vista handed 12th-ranked Amador Valley its first East Bay Athletic League loss, rolling to a 67-48 victory in Pleasanton. Monte Vista ran its record to 11-4, 2-1. Amador Valley slipped to 13-4, 3-1. … Third-ranked De La Salle built an 11-point halftime advantage and went on to defeat Granada 55-39 in an EBAL game. DLS is 14-2, 4-0. Granada dropped to 10-6, 1-3. … Kahli Custard and Kyris Mcinnis each scored 15 points to lead Liberty to a 54-51 win on the road over crosstown rival and 13th-ranked Heritage. Liberty stretched its winning streak to seven games as it improved to 12-5 overall and 2-0 in the Bay Valley Athletic League. Heritage slid to 13-5, 1-1. … Leland improved to 13-1 and 4-0 in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton Division with a 63-59 win over Santa Teresa, which fell to 5-9, 1-3. … In girls action, second-ranked Archbishop Mitty got 22 points from Haley Jones, 12 points from Ania McNicholas and 10 points from Marley Langi in a 69-50 victory on the road over No. 12 St. Ignatius. Mitty is 12-2 and 3-0 in the West Catholic Athletic League. SI fell to 11-5, 1-2.
Bay Area News Group’s Darren Sabedra contributed to this report.
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