For the first time in recent history Palo Alto High School girls’ basketball (11-3, 4-0) will be taking on the Homestead High School Mustangs (8-7, 1-3) — a recently added De Anza League contender — at 6:15 p.m. tomorrow at Gunn High School.
With an impressive De Anza league start, the Vikings are currently ranked first in league and are well-positioned to make it deep into the Central Coast Section Playoffs and California Interscholastic Federation state playoffs.
The Vikings have only dropped three non-league games throughout their current season, all to high-ranked schools like St. Mary’s High School (11-3, 0-0) out of Stockton, California who are currently ranked fifth in the state, and 13th in the nation. Along with this loss, Paly lost nail-biting games to Pinewood High School (13-2, 2-0) and Castro Valley High School (13-3, 3-0), by two points and five points, respectively.
Rigorous games like these have prepared the Vikings for upcoming league matchups, according to senior forward Skylar Burris.
“Playing against teams that are as good as Saint Mary’s and Pinewood forces us to recognize how hard we have to work to get to that level,” Burris said. “We can’t drop to the level of the competition, and by playing against great teams it forces us to play great as well, setting a standard for even our least competitive game.”
Homestead is new to the De Anza League this year, as the team moved up from the El Camino League after demolishing their competition with a 12-0 league record last season. The Mustangs replaced the Los Altos High School Eagles (6-9, 2-2), who went 2-10 in the De Anza League last year.
The Viking offense will again be led by Burris and junior guard Carly Leong, who have made a name for themselves by consistently draining shots from beyond the arc. According to maxpreps, Paly ranks 4th in California and 28th nationally for most 3-point shots made.
According to Leong, one of the keys to the game for Paly is controlling the tempo and staying disciplined.
“We cannot play down to their level, because if we do they would have a good chance of winning,” Leong said. “We just have to play our game and keep shooting and shoot transition shots even if we are up by a lot, and focus on defense.”
Homestead is coming off a, 58-56 league win against Gunn High School (9-8, 3-2) whom the Vikings beat with a score of 72-63 on Jan. 6.
Following the game against the Mustangs, Paly will have seven more league games before heading into the playoffs.