The Palo Alto High School girls’ basketball team (22-5, 12-0) had its magical season cut short in the first round of the CIF State Girls Basketball Championships on Wednesday night after it suffered a heartbreaking 55-45 loss at home against Oakland High School (23-6, 8-1).
Ranked as one of two No. 4 seeds in a field of 30 teams, the Vikings entered the field as favorites against the No. 13 seed Wildcats, who were captained by senior forward Keyanna Bendy, the team’s leading scorer.
Despite winning 22 of its first 24 games on the season, the Vikings lost three straight to conclude their season: during Open Division of the CCS Playoffs against St. Igantius and Scotts Valley, and Wednesday versus Oakland.
The Wildcats outscored the Vikings, 22-13, in the fourth quarter after the Vikings rallied in the third to cut the Wildcats’ lead down to one, ending the Vikings season after just one CIF game. Oakland will move on and host No. 5 seed Pittsburg at 6 p.m. this Saturday, March 14.
While the early exit is frustrating, sophomore forward Skylar Burris says that the team will come back next year motivated and stronger compared to this year.
“Although we didn’t go for as long as wanted to in CIF, it’s hard to be disappointed with all the accomplishments we acheived,” Burris said. “Our team is so close and there really is no offseason [for us]; we’re always together and always working to improve our basketball skills.”
With no seniors on the team this year, the Vikings are expected to return next year with all of their current players. Junior guard Maddy Atwater says that the girls are staying positive and are proud about how far they got.
“Obviously we are disappointed we lost and our season was cut short, ” Atwater said. “We know we could have beat [Oakland] but we are proud of how far we got and are staying very positive about it all.”
According to Atwater, the team is starting its offseason off by beginning a weight lifting program next week. Burris says that building off of a perfect De Anza League season will result in a dominant team next year.
“We’re ready to kick some major butt next season,” Burris said.