It was the Dioli sisters’ show at Half Moon Bay High School on Friday night.
Though Senior Night honored the team’s sole senior, Bella Dioli, it was both Dioli sisters who shined in Half Moon Bay’s 51-39 win over Oceana High School. Bella finished with 11 points, including two 3-pointers and a plethora of offensive rebounds. Alli Dioli notched 20 points with four 3-pointers, including a deep straightaway buzzer-beater to end the third quarter.
Though the mantra of the Cougars (18-3, 8-1 PAL) is to approach each game the same way, Friday night was something of a bounce-back game. Prior to Half Moon Bay’s 53-46 loss to El Camino on Jan. 29, the girls had won 14 straight games.
The Cougars’ unforced turnovers and traveling violations kept Oceana (6-15, 1-8) in the game early, and the Sharks took an 11-6 lead into the second quarter. The Dioli sisters gave the Cougar offense a much-needed lift. They outscored Oceana, 20-7, in the second quarter.
To start, Alli nailed a jump shot, made an off-hand layup, got a steal that led to an inbound give-and-go bucket to Genevieve Belmonte, all inside of the first two minutes.
Junior guard Nataly Martin controlled the Sharks’ offense and kept her team in the game longer than head coach Antonio Veloso would have liked. She was the primary ball handler and consistently floated passes just past Cougar defenders to forwards Dylan Fulton and Samantha Edwards for points inside the paint.
Alli’s quiet confidence has grown throughout the season, and the freshman has become one of the team’s premier scorers.
“Early on, if something went wrong, you could see it affected her,” Veloso said. “She now is getting that ability where if something goes wrong she’ll brush it aside and get the next one.”
On Bella, Veloso said the middle sibling of two great scorers for the Cougars has been very unselfish in her approach with the program.
“She’s been this kid who defers to them, and that’s what she does with the team,” Veloso said. “She makes sure everyone else feels good and is in the right spot.”
Ahead by seven with two minutes remaining and Oceana still in the hunt, the Dioli sisters iced the game. First with a steal from Alli, who was fouled and subsequently sank both free throws. Then Bella’s 3-pointer in the corner sealed the deal.
After the loss to El Camino, Bella came in laser-focused, but she hasn’t lost sight of how fun it is to play alongside her younger sister in a full season for the first time.
“She’s always been a little further behind, so we haven’t been on the same team,” she said. “But we knew in high school we would have our one year. It’s been really cool.”