Boys: how SHP prepared for Open Division
Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli has been with the Gators since 2007-2008, so he’s learned a thing or two about planning and what kind of players to win with.
Take Sam Norris, SHP’s 6-foot-6 center/forward and one of the three team captains.
On Friday night, he followed up a teammate’s missed shot by grabbing the rebound and putting it back in the ring for two points, then hit a free throw to complete a three-point play.
All with two seconds to go.
That enabled Sacred Heart Prep to defeat Menlo-Atherton 60-59 in Central Coast Section Open Division pool play. The Gators (18-6) will next host the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Monday night.
Norris had 26 points for SHP. He is the team’s leading scorer (15.9 points per game) and rebounder (8.4 per game). Erick Osterloh added 11 points.
Martinelli, who has only had one sub-.500 season with SHP, said he never expects to earn a spot in the Open Division. But he does establish a non-competitive schedule that forces the seeding committee to consider whether their record is good enough for his team.
This year, the Gators are seeded third behind Mitty and Riordan.
“I thought we might be lower,” said Martinelli. “I am certainly happy where we are. We get a few home games and then we go to NorCals.
Since Martinelli usually fills SHP’s schedule with tough non-competitive opponents, he doesn’t want players who are mentally strong enough to get into trouble if they lose a few games.
“You have to know what kind of players you have,” said the coach. “It hurts to lose, but you learn from losing. Our guys don’t point the finger at each other.”
Martinelli said fellow West Bay Athletic League members Priory and The King’s Academy were among the teams eligible for the Open Division. The Gators parted ways with both schools during the regular season. SHP and Priory were co-champions in the league 8-2.
Menlo-Atherton’s next assignment is a visit to No. 2 seed Riordan, who was upset by the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday night. The Bears (21-4), who have lost one point to SHP on two occasions, were led in scoring by Ben Eisner and Jalen Williams, each with 14 points. Meka Okereke had 11 for MA.
Girls: Welcome back, Morgan Cheli
Top-seeded Mitty began his quest for his second consecutive Open Division title by rolling past No. 8 Crystal Springs Uplands 93-30.
The Monarchs, who have won 16 straight, are in position for a long postseason run, especially as star player Morgan Cheli spends most of the season recovering from injury.
Cheli, returning against Presentation on February 11, scored 22 points against Crystal Spring Uplands.
She delivers another piece to a team that has been dominant. McKenna Woliczko (16 points) and Elle Hanson (14 points) scored in double digits for the Monarchs on Friday night.
Mitty hosts Los Gatos on Monday.
In one of the few early round playoff games on Friday night with over .500 records, Santa Clara edged out Piedmont Hills 45-31 in a Division I game. Mialani Talalele put on quite a show, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for Santa Clara. The 5-11 sophomore is the younger sister of Amos Talalele, the Santa Clara offensive line star who is heading to USC. Santa Clara (17-8) next visits Homestead. Piemonte Hills ends 13-12. …Santa Teresa had no trouble beating Alvarez 89-29. Alvarez came into the Division I game with the better record at 15-7, but Santa Teresa (14-9) let three players score at least 24 points. Sierra Pablo had 31, Angelina Holland dropped to 28 and Daboul Dahlia had a double-double with 24 points and 16 rebounds.