Looking at the girls’ basketball teams in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division this year, it would be an easy choice to say Terra Nova, San Mateo or Menlo-Atherton are the clubs to beat.
But no one in the PAL Bay is overlooking Mills High School, and with good reason.
The Vikings (2-1 PAL Bay, 11-5 overall) may be a slightly smaller team when stacked up against their league rivals, but they have been able to hold their own when push has come to shove.
“We played a lot of physical teams during the preseason,” Mills coach Dave Matsu said. “And in this league, anyone can beat anyone on any night.”
After only falling to Menlo-Atherton by two points on Jan. 11, the Vikings have won their past two league games and will face their next toughest challenge Friday when they play defending league champion Terra Nova at Mills at 6 p.m. The Vikings, who split with the Tigers last year, are looking to improve on last year’s second-place finish, and could use a win to springboard them to the front of the pack.
Still, Matsu remains cautious.
“It’s still early in the season,” Matsu said. “You can’t count out San Mateo or Menlo-Atherton, and Terra Nova is still the top of the league.”
Getting past the Tigers will be no easy task for Mills, a fact not lost on Matsu.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Matsu said. “The key for us will be playing good defense. The team that plays the best defense [Friday] is going to win.”
The Vikings’ defense has been carrying the load recently even as the Vikings have struggled on offense.
“We’ve been playing well defensively, forcing turnovers well,” Matsu said. “Right now, we’re in a slump, not shooting the ball well. We just need to start making more baskets.”
Matsu is looking to his three leaders to snap his team out of that offensive slump and keep them in the hunt for the league crown.
Sophomore point guard Kristen Lastofka will look to get seniors Stephanie Del Bianco (guard) and Lexi Chierici (center) going offensively, while trying to help slow down Terra Nova’s fast-break attack as much as possible.
“Terra Nova’s break really concerns me, more than their physical style,” Matsu said.
Matsu also credits the play of varsity newcomer junior Kelly Chin for Mills’ success so far this season.
“It has been a real pleasure coaching these ladies,” Matsu said.
WHEN: Friday, 6:15 p.m.
WHERE: Mills High School, Millbrae
NOTES: Terra Nova won the PAL Bay Division last year, while Mills finished second. ... Mills has won four of its past five games. ... Terra Nova enters the game on a six-game winning streak.