While it seems the football season and Christmas ended only a couple weeks ago, this week marks the halfway point of the basketball and soccer seasons.
As such, the standings are starting to shake themselves out. While there are some familiar teams near the top, there are also a few surprises leading the pack.
No big surprises in the Peninsula Athletic League divisions. Burlingame and Half Moon Bay — defending South and North division champions, respectively — are both sitting in first place with undefeated league records.
The Cougars have a little more breathing room, however. Their win over second-place Terra Nova Friday gives them a two-game lead in the standings. The race for the South Division title is a bit tighter, as Hillsdale is just a game behind Burlingame, following the Knights’ win over Aragon Friday night.
Working in the Knights’ favor are the vagaries of the PAL schedule, which scheduled only one game this season — Feb. 5 in Burlingame. If both teams take care of business, that game could determine whether the Panthers can win yet another division crown, or if Hillsdale can forge a tie atop the table.
In the West Catholic Athletic League, Serra may be the surprise of the division. Having lost three starters and a key reserve from last season, the Padres were going to lean heavily on guards Danny Mahoney and Sean Watkins.
So far so good. Serra is tied atop the WCAL standings with a 6-1 record, tied with Mitty for the best record. The Padres’ only loss was to Mitty, in a game they led in the fourth quarter.
Mahoney and Watkins have all but willed the Padres to the top and if the team can find a consistent third scoring option, they could be even more dangerous going into the playoffs.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School are, once again, battling for the West Bay Athletic League title. The Gators already have a leg up on the Knights, beating them last week on a pair of last-second free throws in the first meeting of the season. The rematch will be in a week or two and the title could be decided then.
It’s no surprise to see Mills near the top of the PAL South Division standings. What is somewhat shocking is seeing Hillsdale keeping pace with the Vikings.
The two are currently undefeated in PAL South play, although that will change when the two face off Wednesday night in Millbrae. The Knights have set up this showdown by handing Carlmont its only loss of the season last week.
In the North Division, Westmoor took its first step toward a second straight division title after beating South City Jan. 17 to take a one-game lead in the standings over the Warriors.
The Rams currently sit alone atop the North Division standings, with South City a game back.
The Warriors will get their chance at revenge Feb. 7, but can’t afford a slip in the meantime.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Pinewood is, once again, the cream of the crop. The Panthers (5-0 WBAL Foothill Division) sit alone in first in the WBAL Foothill Division and everyone else is playing for second. Menlo School currently occupies that spot, along with Eastside Prep, both a game back. But Pinewood handed each their league loss. Sacred Heart Prep is struggling a bit at 1-3.
In the Skyline Division, Mercy-Burlingame is two games back of first-place Castilleja, while Crystal Springs is still looking for its first WBAL win.
Notre Dame-Belmont is also winless, playing in the West Catholic Athletic League, arguably the toughest league in Northern California, but the Tigers remain one of the top teams in the county.
Things can change quickly in soccer standings as the combination of wins, losses and ties all factor into it. A couple of key wins or losses can rocket a team up — or down — the standings.
A look at the PAL Bay Division standings show Woodside on top with a 4-0-1 record, while Half Moon Bay is in fourth place at 3-3. While that may look like three games in the “L” column, Woodside currently has 13 points (three points for a win, one point for a tie), while Half Moon Bay has nine points. A Half Moon Bay win and a Woodside loss would nearly draw them even.
In the Ocean Division, South City took control with a dramatic 3-2 win over Hillsdale Wednesday. Both teams were undefeated in league play going into the game and the Warriors left that way.
The Warriors have no time to take a breather, however, with El Camino and Hillsdale in hot pursuit.
Serra, which may be the best team on the Peninsula, is only two points behind Mitty in the WCAL standings, while Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School battle for WBAL supremacy.
Carlmont has a slim lead over both Menlo-Atherton and Woodside in the Bay Division, while Terra Nova remains unbeaten in the Ocean, with Half Moon Bay three points behind.
Things can change quickly, however, and upward of five teams are still in the mix in the Bay, and an equal number in the Ocean.
Notre Dame-Belmont is, once again, taking their lumps in the WCAL, but have some of the Peninsula’s most dynamic players in Jessica Parque and Luca Deza.
Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School battle for the WBAL Foothill Division title. King’s Academy, with a 3-3 record (nine points), is within shouting distance. In the Skyline Division, Harker, Mercy-Burlingame and Crystal Springs are battling it out, but the Gryphons’ chances took a big hit with a 6-5 loss to Mercy, a game in which Crystal Springs led 4-1.