SAN JOSE -- Piedmont Hills didn't get off to a good start Friday night and wilted a little down the stretch. But when Eros Mendoza made two free throws in the final seconds of the boys basketball game, the host Pirates clinched a 51-47 victory over Willow Glen.
The day began with four teams tied atop the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division standings. When it ended, Piedmont Hills and Leigh, a winner Friday over Leland, were the only ones at the top.
Piedmont Hills trailed 16-4 in the first quarter and watched nearly all of its 11-point fourth-quarter lead dissolve as Willow Glen's Taylor Meeker made basket after basket on his way to a 28-point eruption.
But with a chance to give the Rams a one-point lead with about 10 seconds left, Meeker's 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the rim. Mendoza then sank the foul shots that improved Piedmont Hills' record to 15-4, 7-2.
"I was just focused," Mendoza said. "I just thought about emptying everything out of my mind and focusing on those two free throws to end the game. It felt good."
Coming off a surprising loss at Santa Teresa two days earlier, Piedmont Hills was determined to play well on its home court. Instead, Willow Glen (16-3, 6-3) dominated the early minutes, scoring layup after layup to open a 12-point cushion.
But the game changed after Piedmont Hills coach Pete Simos lit into his team during a timeout.
"At the timeout, our coach yelled at us about defense and how we should pressure up on them," said power forward Walter Bateast, who led the Pirates with 19 points. "That's what we did. We hit a couple of good-looking shots, we rebounded and that's what brought us back into the game."
Piedmont Hills closed the first half on a 19-5 run to take a 23-21 lead into the locker room.
"The kids really stepped up after that bad start," Simos said. "Willow Glen just jumped on us, and the kids fought back."
The Pirates held the lead through the third quarter and widened the advantage in the early minutes of the fourth before Willow Glen made one last surge.
The Rams might have completed the comeback had they not missed six free throws in the final quarter.
"We missed too many free throws the entire game," Willow Glen coach Todd Meeker said. "I told the guys afterward, the only thing I could pinpoint was probably the missed free throws tonight. We played hard. We played well."
Joseph Alvarez had 11 points for Piedmont Hills.
Leigh 56, Leland 53: Jared Williams and Kyle Morrison each scored 13 points as Leigh -- not Leland -- kept pace with Piedmont Hills in the Mount Hamilton Division. Leigh (14-5, 7-2) and Piedmont Hills play Feb. 6. Leland is 13-6, 6-3.
Saratoga 61, Los Gatos 58: Stevie Berman scored 19 points to lead Saratoga to a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division victory at Los Gatos. The Falcons improved to 15-4, 6-1. They trail first-place Palo Alto by a game and will play host to the Vikings on Tuesday. Saratoga led Los Gatos (9-10, 2-5) by 11 points at halftime.
Palo Alto 41, Mountain View 30: Aubrey Dawkins scored 19 points as Palo Alto (17-1, 7-0) stretched its win streak to 15 games.