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BOYS BASKETBALL: Gators in Full Control

SHP uses early 20-0 run to rout Menlo; rivals heading in opposite directions.

The Score: SHP 62, Menlo 37.

The Star: Will McConnell scored 17 points to lead Sacred Heart Prep to a West Bay Athletic League romp over host Menlo School.

The Turning Point: Sacred Heart Prep's 20-0 run that started midway through the first quarter of a game Menlo led 8-4.

The Quote: "I think when other teams have to sub a little bit more, we get them tired, and that’s where we really take over sometimes,” Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli, on how the Gators use their deep bench to their advantage.

What’s Next? Sacred Heart Prep plays host to Woodside Priory on Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Menlo plays at Crystal Springs Uplands on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The Bottom Line: Sacred Heart Prep has established itself as the class of the West Bay Athletic League. The Gators won't face legit competition until the Central Coast Section playoffs. Menlo is going backwards and needs to regroup or the Knights could be in for a long season.

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The Sacred Heart Prep boys basketball team has been on an upswing for a few years now. The Gators won the Central Coast Section Division IV title last season and has two Division I-bound college players this year.

And still no respect?

“Sacred Heart Prep still isn’t really perceived as a basketball power,” said Will McConnell, the Gators’ 6-foot-6, Dartmouth-bound senior center. “We’ve been playing together for awhile and we have this sort of chip on our shoulder.”

These days just about every team the Gators face is paying for that perceived diss. On Tuesday, the Gators trounced crosstown rival Menlo School 62-37 in a West Bay Athletic League game.

The Gators (13-2, 5-0 WBAL) set the tone with a decisive 20-0 run that started midway through the first quarter of a game they trailed 8-4.

McConnell scored 17 points to lead SHP, and his brother Reed McConnell added 15.

Richard Harris led Menlo (6-8, 2-3) with 17 points, and Kent Lacob added nine

“Menlo’s been beating us for years, so we really wanted to make a difference,” Will McConnell said. “We want to leave our legacy.”

Sacred Heart Prep appears to be making its mark.

The Gators have won seven consecutive games by an average margin of 21.9 points.

Gators coach Tony Martinelli said this season’s team could be among the deepest and most talented in program history. Before this year, the Gators sent just one player to a four-year school (Pat Coffey, to Division III Redlands). In addition to Will McConnell and Reed McConnell (committed to Division I UC Irvine), their younger brother Cole McConnell is getting looks from four-year schools, too.

 “We play 9-10 guys and we don’t fall off when we go to the bench,” Martinelli said. “I think when other teams have to sub a little bit more, we get them tired, and that’s where we really take over sometimes.”

SHPs pressure presented matchup nightmares for Menlo, which has had problems against pressure defenses all season.

Menlo coach Kris Weems felt his players didn’t rise to the occasion. 

“Give (SHP) credit, they played well, but I’m not happy with the effort and I’m not happy with the way we’re performing,” Weems said. “We have to find a way to play better, simple as that.”

NOTES: Menlo’s basketball team had a “Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Night” at Tuesday’s game that raised more than $4,200. The event was senior guard Kent Lacob’s senior community service project. Lacob addressed the crowd during a halftime segment that included a short video clip. … SHP guard Pat McNamara broke his nose in practice a month ago but has been playing with a protective mask.  “He got his nose reset and he hasn’t missed any games yet,” Martinelli said.  “He’s one of those guys who’ll scrap whenever he gets a chance.” 

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Sacred Heart Prep 62, Menlo School 37

SHP – 12 21 14 14 -- 62

M – 8 10 5 14 -- 37

SHP: R. McConnell 3 8-8 15, McNamara 1 2-2 5, Bird 1 0-0 3, P. McNamara 1 1-2 3, C. McConnell 1 0-0 2, Baloff 2 0-0 5, Watterson 0 2-2 2, Terndrup 2 2-4 6, W. McConnell 7 3-6 17, O'Donnell 2 0-0 4. Totals: 20 18-24 62.

Menlo: Kent Lacob 2 5-5 9, Mac Osborne 3 0-0 7,  Jonny Halprin 0 3-4 3, Kyle Bowman 1 0-0 2, Richard Harris 7 3-3 17. Totals: 13 11-12 37.

3-point goals: SHP: R. McConnell 2, McNamara, Baloff. M: None.

Records: SHP: 13-2, 5-0 WBAL. Menlo: 6-8, 2-3.

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