After a 2-2 start to the season, the Palo Alto High School boys’ basketball team (22-2, 12-0) has been on a tear, winning 20 straight games, with an average margin of victory of 25.6 points. The Vikings posted a regular season campaign strong enough to earn the 3rd-seed in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Open Division Tournament, where they will compete against the other seven best teams in the area.
It has been five years since the boys’ basketball team last qualified for the CCS Open Division Tournament when it qualified in 2013 as the 5th-seed. Paly was unable to find success in the tournament, dropping its first-round game and its consolation ladder game. Palo Alto has all the tools to make some noise in the tournament this year: experience, talent, and veteran leadership. All nine seniors on the roster played in Paly’s deep postseason run last year and have learned how to play under the ‘survive and advance’ mentality.
This year, the 6th-seeded St. Ignatius Wildcats (16-8, 9-5) will challenge the Vikings in the first round. St. Ignatius, last year’s 2nd-seeded team in CCS Open Division from the West Catholic Athletic Leauge (WCAL), should cause Paly problems inside, with four players on its roster listed at 6’6″ or taller. The Wildcats have won four of their last five games but ended their regular season with a loss at Bellarmine High School (21-3, 13-1).
Paly has dissected teams all year through its balanced scoring attack. The Vikings run a rotation of eight seniors, all of who are involved in the offense and can get hot. Led by senior forward Max Dorward and guard Spencer Rojahn, Palo Alto will look to spread the ball around and continue their methodical style of basketball to get its open shots.
According to senior forward William Schlemmer, the boys have been ready for Open Division all season.
“I think we have known this day was coming this year so from day one we all bought-in to the system and have worked hard and competed every practice,” Schlemmer said. “We want to do something that has never been done before. No public school has beaten a WCAL team in Open and we think we have a great chance to make some history.”
If the Vikings win on Friday, they advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where they will face the 2nd-seeded Menlo High School Knights (23-1, 14-0) or the 7th-seeded Archbishop Mitty Monarchs (9-15, 7-7). Either matchup is equally enticing; the Knights defeated the Vikings back in Dec., one of Paly’s two losses or Palo Alto could become the first team to defeat a second WCAL school in Open Division.
Palo Alto squares off against St. Ignatius at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Fremont High School.