Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Anisah Smith puts up a shot in Friday's win over M-A.
With Carlmont shooting guard Anisah Smith struggling with her shot, the Menlo-Atherton girls’ basketball team hung with the Scots for the better part of three quarters.
When Ilana Baer, a freshman making her varsity debut for the Bears, hit a bucket with 2:48 left in the third quarter, M-A trailed by just four points, 28-24.
A minute and 20 seconds later, Carlmont’s lead was 14, 38-24. The Scots cruised home from there, recording a 58-38 win to remain unbeaten in Peninsula Athletic League South Division play Friday night.
“Our defensive intensity picked up in the second half and that was the difference,” said Carlmont coach Dan Mori.
Carlmont (4-0 PAL South, 15-1 overall) showed Friday it is more than just a one-person team. If you just looked at the Carlmont box scores from the season, the number that jumps out in the one in the scoring column for Smith, who is averaging over 20 points per game this season.
But a box score doesn’t show what kind of impact the Scots’ pressure defense has. It was that swarming defense that forced M-A (2-2, 10-5) into a number of turnovers — nine in the second half alone — that turned into easy baskets.
And while Smith still got hers — she finished with 24 points — it was her teammates who helped pick up the slack.
“Since my shot wasn’t falling, I decided to work on other parts of the game,” Smith said.
In addition to her two dozen points, Smith also came up with five steals, a handful off assists and two rebounds.
While Smith had a pair of baskets during that 10-0 run in the third quarter, she also set up her teammates. Cam Kondo started the run by burying a jumper. Smith followed with a pair of layups on a fastbreak and a steal, then assisted on Kondo and Sophia Faupusa buckets.
“We’re starting to trust our game more,” Smith said. “I’m trusting my teammates because even if they don’t catch (my pass), there’s always the next possession.”
Given that Smith is the only senior on a team that also features a freshman and a pair of sophomores, that trust has taken a while to build. But if the Scots can get consistent points elsewhere, not only will it take pressure off Smith, it was also make the Scots a more potent team.
Smith’s teammates definitely took the pressure off of her in the second half. In the first two quarters, Smith scored 11 of the Scots’ 19 first-half points.
While Smith scored 13 in the second half, her teammates chipped in with 30 over the final two periods. Kondo, a freshman, finished with nine points and nine rebounds, while Rachel Lum, a junior, added seven. In all, nine players got in the scoring column for Carlmont.
“It’s a growth process. [The rest of the team] is playing with a lot more confidence,” Mori said. “Anisah’s leadership has been great in helping the other players.”
After scoring 19 points in the first half, Carlmont exploded for 39 in the second half.
M-A was led by Ilana Baer’s 12 points. Junior Naomi Baer added eight and pulled down eight rebounds. Freshman Ofa Sili had six points and six boards.
Despite the final score, the game was much closer in the first half. The first quarter was a battle between Smith and M-A’s Naomi Baer. Smith scored eight in the first quarter, while Naomi Baer went for six as the Scots led 13-8 after one quarter.
The Bears scored the first five points of the second period on a bucket from Ilana Baer and a 3-pointer from Sarah Howell to tie the game at 13. After Smith made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Scots a 14-13 lead, Naomi Baer hit a pair from the charity stripe to give M-A a 15-14 advantage — one of two times the Bears led in the game.
Carlmont responded with a Lum 3 and a layup off a steal from Smith to retake the lead for the Scots and they went into halftime leading 19-17.
M-A stayed with Carlmont early in the third quarter. Smith hit 1 of 2 free throws to push the Scots lead to 20-17, but layups from Sili and Erin Goode gave M-A a 21-20 lead — the Bears’ last lead of the game.
The Scots responded with an 8-1 run for a 28-22 lead. Ilana Baer’s bucket with 2:48 to make the score 28-24, which would be as close as the Bears would get the rest of the way as they were held to just 21 second-half points.