The Half Moon Bay High School girls varsity basketball team (5-2) hosted two games last week — winning both — in the PAL Challenge held at the Cabrillo Event Center.
The first was a comfortable 46-23 win over San Mateo High School (0-3) on Friday evening.
The next game, however, against Burlingame High School (6-3) was much more compelling. Half Moon Bay fought its way to a competitive 56-53 win over the Panthers on Saturday.
The Cougars’ roster boasts athletic shooters. However, in Friday night’s game, neither team started well offensively.
The Cougars did it with defense and were led by Abby Kennedy and Sierra Young who each had a pair of steals. The breakaway came in the second quarter when Half Moon Bay made four consecutive 3-pointers, including three straight from freshman guard Alli Dioli. Her last one was a straightaway shot that put the team ahead, 21-9.
Coach Antonio Veloso said flipping the switch made all the difference.
“We were able to turn it on and able to shoot gaps,” he said. “It started when we made that first substitution, when Sierra came in. She had at least two steals.
“It all starts with that, the energy to shoot the gap,” he said.
The Cougars outscored the Bearcats, 19-4, in the second quarter and took a 27-9 lead at halftime. Twin sisters Abby and Ally Co both provided excellent speed in the backcourt, consistently pushing the fast break with good ball-handling. Abby Co made a play worthy of the season’s final highlights reel. As she charged into the paint, she Euro-stepped around a defender and made an and-one layup to put the Cougars up 33-11 with three minutes left in the third.
“It’s telepathic,” Young said of the twins’ connection. “They find each other on the court and always pass it right to each other’s hands.”
Veloso explained that to beat Burlingame they’d need to attack from the start, and that they did. The sustained effort paid off, as the Cougars got some separation after halftime, outscoring Burlingame, 18-10, in the third quarter.