When Half Moon Bay High School boys varsity basketball coach John Parsons heard the Peninsula Athletic League Tournament would not take place this season, the disappointment hit a personal note.
Parsons has seen the tournament from its inception. A Half Moon Bay High School graduate in 2002, he dropped a game-high 28 points against Carlmont that year, the most points scored in the tourney that year. During its 20-year stretch, the PAL Tournament hosted the best teams from north and south divisions of the Peninsula to compete just before the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“I think everyone is just bummed out about it,” Parsons said. “It’s something everyone looked forward to every year. So, it’s a shame.”
For the 2018-19 season the tournament was condensed from an eight-team format to just four teams, with two teams from each division competing.
The league athletic directors reportedly made the decision to cancel the tournament. Parsons said the coaches were not aware it would be canceled, because at the last coaches meeting, the coaches said they wanted to send four teams each, or at least keep the same two-team format.
“I thought, at the very least, we’d have it like we did last year, so it was definitely a surprise when I heard the news,” Parsons said.
Antonio Veloso, head coach of the girls varsity basketball team at Half Moon Bay High School, said winning the PAL Tournament was sometimes tougher than winning CCS playoff games, due to the larger Open Division teams such as Menlo-Atherton.
“For schools our size, it’s a big deal,” Veloso said.
One key element of the tourney was the additional games it put on teams’ schedules. Because the tournament was scheduled in the postseason, and not part of the restricted 24 regular season games, the tournament allowed teams to rack up a few more wins that would help in the upcoming CCS playoff bracket.
Not only that, but the increased level of competition also served as a tuneup for a playoff run.
“For years, we said we wanted to put a banner on the wall,” Parsons said. “And that’s either winning the PAL Tournament or winning CCS.”
Parsons said the boys and girls who grew up playing at Cunha or on various club teams would eventually compete against each other at the tournament, but it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.