EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. — Hosting Pinewood while jostling for positions in what looks to be a crowded CCS Division V field, the Eastside Panthers knocked down clutch shots in a third-quarter run and stayed in control in the fourth for a 59-51 win.
With the Woodside Priory Panthers leading the race between three Division V teams in the West Bay Athletic League, all named the Panthers, Eastside head coach Chris Bischof knew the importance of Friday’s game, and his team responded to the challenge.
Keaton Bailey hit four threes for Pinewood (10-7, 2-5 WBAL) in the first half and tied the game at 31 less than two minutes into the third on an and-1, but Eastside (11-4, 3-4) responded with a 14-5 run to create a cushion that would last the rest of the way. Van White answered Bailey’s play with a 3-pointer, one of five the hosts would hit on the afternoon, and they’d go up five on another basket from White, followed by a David Haines steal and dunk that made up for the embarrassment of an earlier dunk bid that was denied by the rim, putting the home side up 43-36.
Raymond Reece, who scored 21 to lead all scorers and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, followed with two free throws, one of the rare successful trips to the line the 6-foot-5 junior center had on the day. Even though he was the high scorer for the game, he went just 7-of-17 at the charity stripe, and that trip to the line with 1:20 left in the third was the only time he’d knock down both.
Joey Lama, who scored nine of his 15 in the third for Pinewood, got the final four points of the quarter, and a 3-pointer by sophomore Jaden Norwood would cut the lead to 48-45 with 5:01 left, with Eastside point guard Josh Libiran going down with a cramp on the play.
Even with Libiran on the bench for the following three minutes, his teammates took care of business. Vuka Asikia picked a perfect time for his only points of the day, knocking down a three to answer the one by Norwood, and a Reece putback with 3:22 left would make it 55-45. The visitors would never get closer than eight the rest of the way, with White knocking down a pair of free throws with 1:03 left for the last of his nine points to all but seal the game.
Libiran, who returned in the final minutes, scored 12 in the first half, including nine in the opening quarter. Bailey led Pinewood with 17 while Norwood finished with nine.
Eastside has a nonleague game at 5 p.m. on Monday at home against More (9-8), another player in the Division V field, before hosting Sacred Heart Prep (13-3, 6-1) 24 hours later. Pinewood has a 7:30 game on Tuesday at Harker (6-11, 0-7).