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Peninsula high school basketball team held to nine points by rival

Menlo-Atherton guard Ben Eisner (10) shoots a 3-pointer over Sequoia guard Kenayi Ortiz (5) during a Peninsula Athletic League basketball game in Redwood City on Jan. 18, 2023. | Courtesy Noah Eisner

Every few months, a high school team makes headlines for a lopsided score, and the coach’s integrity and sportsmanship are questioned after the team runs up the score in a blowout.

But what about running down the opponent’s score?

Menlo-Atherton’s boys basketball team produced one of those head-turning scores on Wednesday night, beating Sequoia 62-9 in Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) South Division play.

“We rested all of our starters in the second half,” Molieri said. “But I did tell our players that we’re always defending. We did our part not to run it up.”

The Bears didn’t press at all. They led 11-1 after a quarter and 33-3 at halftime. Sequoia finally scored from the field in the last minute of the second quarter, and the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

In addition to playing the reserves throughout the second half, the Bears weren’t even at full strength to begin with. Point guard Jalen Williams missed the game with a wrist injury, and center Meka Okereke didn’t play a minute of the final two quarters. Backup center Allen Chang and forward Johno Price also sat for the second half.

Menlo-Atherton forward Johno Price (1) handles the ball in the lane during a Peninsula Athletic League basketball game against Sequoia in Redwood City on Jan. 18, 2023. | Courtesy Noah Eisner

“There was no bad sportsmanship or anything,” Sequoia head coach Fine Lauese said. “We’re just learning how to play. M-A was by far the better team, and we just missed a lot of shots. We need to keep working on our fundamentals.”

If the Bears had any intent to show the Ravens up, it would have popped up in conversations at family dinners. M-A assistant coach Ofa Taimani is married to Sequoia assistant coach Bobby Hayes. Taimani considers Lauese, her first cousin once removed, as a brother.

“I love my husband, and I love my brother,” Taimani said. “The team stepped up on defense.”

Sequoia (0-13, 0-2 PAL South) has five sophomores on its roster after graduating 11 seniors from a 2021-22 team that went 6-17. Menlo-Atherton (10-3, 3-0) is one of three teams that’s yet to lose a game in PAL South play. The teams are set to meet again at M-A on Jan. 27.

“Not once last night or in the past did I ever feel like they did anything unsportsmanlike,” Lauese said.

There hasn’t always been a competitive chasm between the two teams. While the Bears have won 10 straight head-to-head meetings, the two were neck and neck for much of the prior decade. Sequoia beat the Bears to win the PAL Tournament in 2017, then won the tournament again the following year.