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High school basketball: Moreau, Washington win thrillers

HAYWARD — All signs are pointing toward Valentine’s Night clash for the Mission Valley Athletic League boys basketball championship.

Moreau Catholic held off Newark Memorial 61-59 on Thursday night when Chance Carlton’s shot from the wing bounced off the rim as time expired.

Coach Frank Knight raised his arms in triumph, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief as his young team kept pace with Washington-Fremont atop the league standings.

“I don’t care if it’s a nail-biter,” said Knight, whose team visits Washington on Feb. 14 to close the regular season. “I just want to get the W at this point.”

Moreau looked as if it might avoid the late-game nail chewing when Devin Arnold fed Solomon Thomas for a layup with 2:45 left. The basket stretched the Mariners’ lead to 58-51 and Thomas drew a foul, too.

But he missed the free throw — one of 13 missed foul shots for Moreau — and Newark Memorial began to claw back.

Carlton’s basket cut the deficit to 58-57 with 1:41 to go and A.B. Gilchrist’s two free throws with 46.6 seconds remaining tied the score 59-59.

A pair of free throws by Kaleb Elarms Orr with 32.3 seconds left reclaimed the advantage for Moreau, 61-59, and the Mariners made them stand.

Barely.

Trey Knight — the coach’s son — led Moreau with 13 points despite sitting much of the first half in foul trouble. Thomas finished with 12 points.

Moreau, a perennial power in the MVAL, had to retool this season after losing key pieces from its North Coast Section Division II championship team of a year ago.

But with three games left, the Mariners (15-8, 10-1) are in position for another league crown.

They play host to James Logan on Saturday, which could be another tight one.

“It’s probably the most competitive league we’ve had in some time,” Frank Knight said. “The crazy thing is before the season we were picked like fourth. Everybody said Washington, Newark and Logan would be really, really good. We lost six seniors. It was a rebuild for us. So for us to be right here, we feel good. The kids are stepping up. We’re playing well.”

Gilchrist scored 15 points and Tyler Harris added 12 points to lead Newark Memorial (15-8, 7-4). The Cougars also 11 points from Carlton.

“If we play this game in the preseason, we lose,” Frank Knight added. “But because they’ve been through some tight games and we played a pretty tough preseason, they understand what it takes to win. We missed 13 free throws today and still won.

“They’ve figured out loose balls and taking charges and diving on the floor, figuring out their roles. It’s going to be tough to deal with us in the postseason.”

Washington-Fremont 73, James Logan 69

Brah’jon Thompson was spectacular for James Logan, but his performance wasn’t enough to avoid a second loss this season to Washington.

The lightning-quick guard finished with 34 points to keep the score tight, but the Huskies prevailed on their home court to move one step close to a league championship.

Austin Balentine again led the way for Washington with 22 points. Jorren Edmonds finished with 19 points and Joseph Mangonon added 13 points as the Huskies stretched their winning streak to eight games.

Washington (18-5, 10-1) travels to Mission San Jose on Saturday and Kennedy on Tuesday before the Valentine’s Night showdown at home against Moreau.

Menlo School sophomore Sharon Nejad, left, finished with a game-high 18 points in a 64-46 loss to second-ranked Salesian at home in Atherton on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Courtesy of Pam McKenney/Menlo School) 

GIRLS

No. 2 Salesian 64, No. 6 Menlo School 46

ATHERTON — Over a six-day span, the Pride went on a pair of roughly 100-mile roundtrips to the Peninsula for girls basketball showdowns at Los Altos Hills and Atherton.

“What possessed me to do that?” Salesian coach Pezzola said with a smile.

He went on to explain how during last year’s NorCal Open Division semifinals, the Pride pulled off an upset of top-seeded Archbishop Mitty in San Jose, but three days later didn’t play at the same level in the title game at Gunn against Pinewood.

On Saturday, Salesian avenged its setback in the NorCal final as it handed Pinewood its second loss of the season, 49-39.

On Thursday, the Pride (22-3) pulled away from host Menlo — last year’s CIF Division II state champion — in the first half on the strength of 14-2 and 10-0 runs in the first half.

“We’re trying to get ready for who-knows-what for NCS Open and who-knows-what for NorCal Open,” Pezzola said.

Menlo (16-5), without point guard Avery because of a finger injury, suffered a third-straight loss.

Sophomore post Sharon Nejad led the Knights with 18 points, while Coco Layton drained a trio of 3-pointers to contribute 13 points.

“I appreciate (Salesian) coming over here on a weeknight — and there’s no traffic in the Bay Area,” Menlo coach John Paye said. “We’ve upgraded our schedule this year and we’re fortunate that teams like this will come and play us.”

Salesian, without 6-foot-1 post Silivia Fonongaloa (flu), saw nine of its 11 players score a bucket.

Nevaeh Asiasi and fellow sophomore Satchel Ford each accounted for 10 points, while co-captain Daylee Dunn scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the first half as the Pride went into the locker room up 39-25.

Junior Amira Brown’s all-around effort consisted of seven points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.

“We have 12 on our roster and usually 11 of them in any one game get in because we really do want to tire the other team out,” Pezzola said. “We also want to get kids an opportunity and I thought Nevaeh Asiasi, she’s had a little cold and been under the weather, today she was a big spark for us.”



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