Prep basketball preview: Pappageorge's climb

It was nearly a year ago, but the memories still sting fresh for Burlingame guard Peter Pappageorge.

Pappageorge, then a sophomore spot-up shooter with a penchant for offensive explosions, had led the Panthers to the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals, where they matched up with St. Ignatius. Unable to shake the Wildcats’ tenacious man-to-man defense, Pappageorge was held scoreless in Burlingame’s season-ending

52-45 loss.

“That game definitely motivates me,” said Pappageorge. “After that, people were saying that I couldn’t score when somebody was covering me. It really made me want to come out and prove everybody wrong.”

After an offseason spent working on expanding his offensive game, Pappageorge has emerged as a versatile scoring threat this year, averaging 19.5 points per game to help guide the Panthers to an 8-5 record in their nonconference schedule. The 6-foot, 165-pound junior has already drained 41

3-pointers this season, including seven in a Dec. 1 game against Half Moon Bay, but he’s also gotten to the foul line an impressive 81 times, where he sinks 83 percent of his free throws.

“He still has some room for improvement, but it’s clear Peter has worked real hard on adding more layers to his game,”

Burlingame coach Jeff Dowd said. “There have been some games this season where his shot has been off, but he’s still managed to get to the foul line and get to the rim. He has shown he can generate some offense in a way other than his outside shot.”

Dowd and the Panthers will be relying on Pappageorge’s game more than ever in the improved Peninsula Athletic League’s Central Division. Burlingame lost its two leading scorers from last season’s squad, and only one other Panther (guard Matt Brinkerhoff) is scoring in double figures this year.

The reliance on Pappageorge is the main reason Dowd is trying to get his junior guard to be a more emotional, vocal leader.

“Peter leads by his actions, but sometimes we need him to be more assertive,” said Dowd. “He’s our best player, so we’re looking for him to give us a spark.”

“I’m trying to become more vocal and really talk it up with the guys, to help lead from that standpoint,” said Pappageorge, whose father, Nick, played at St. Mary’s and set the school record for assists in a single season. “We’ve been inconsistent at times this year, and I think if I speak up a little more I can help us do a better job of staying focused.”

His public speaking may not match his shooting touch just yet, but even a quiet Pappageorge still ranks as one of the best players in the PAL.

“The amazing part is that Peter is still filling out physically,” said Dowd. “I think he definitely has the potential to be one of the best players ever to come out of this school.”


Teams listed in alphabetical order

Central Division

Aragon Dons

» This Season: 8-6

» Last Season: 9-14

» Coach: Arjuna Manning-Laisne

» Scouting Report: The Dons have a deep, albeit undersized, squad, led by forward Greg O’Neil (12.4 points per game) and guard Russell Park (10.8 ppg.)

Burlingame Panthers

» This Season: 8-5

» Last Season: 19-9 (lost to St. Ignatius in CCS Division III semifinals)

» Coach: Jeff Dowd

» Scouting Report: Led by junior guard Peter Pappageorge (19.5 ppg) the Panthers look like the team to beat in the Central Division.

Capuchino Mustangs

» This Season: 2-4

» Last Season: 2-17

» Coach: Brian Gomes

» Scouting Report: The Mustangs have made strides under Gomes, already matching last season’s win total of two.

Hillsdale Knights

» This Season: 6-6

» Last Season: 19-9 (lost to Cupertino in CCS Division III quarterfinals)

» Coach: Brett Stevenson

» Scouting Report: The Knights lost all-everything guard Eddie Attawayto graduation, but with 6-foot-7 Serra transfer Arthur Fodor in the middle, Hillsdale will stay competitive.

Mills Vikings

» This Season: 10-5

» Last Season: 22-8 (lost to Menlo-Atherton in CCS Division II semifinals)

» Coach: Rick Hanson

» Scouting Report: The Vikings will be a top challenger to Burlingame in the Central Division, due in large part to the play of senior swingman Jimmy Knecht.

San Mateo Bearcats

» This Season: 8-7

» Last Season: 10-18

» Coach: Stephen Asp

» Scouting Report: The much-improved Bearcats have one of the best inside-outside combinations in the PAL with 6-5 junior center Don Washington and senior guard Marcus Jackson.

North Division

El Camino Colts

» This Season: 4-12

» Last Season: 6-18

» Coach: Anthony Khoo

» Scouting Report: Led by junior forward Anthony Smith (16.7 ppg), a second-team North Division performer last season, the Colts should easily surpass their six wins from a year ago.

Jefferson Indians

» This Season: 2-10

» Last Season: 17-10 (lost to Cupertino in CCS Division III first round)

» Coach: Nick Paras

» Scouting Report: The Indians struggled through a tough nonconference schedule, but they proved they could be a contender with their 42-41 win at San Mateo on Wednesday.

Oceana Sharks

» This Season: 0-7

» Last Season: 16-12

» Coach: Phat Le

» Scouting Report: It’s been a tough start for first-year coach Le, but he does have talent to build around, notably in guards Jacob and Elijah Seymore.

South San Francisco Warriors

» This Season: 7-6

» Last Season: 1-20

» Coach: Rich Gutierrez

» Scouting Report: With a disastrous 2006-07 season now in their rear-view mirror, the Warriors should have their sights back on the CCS playoffs.

Terra Nova Tigers

» This Season: 8-3

» Last Season: 13-12 (lost to Riordan in CCS Division III first round)

» Coach: Gabe Rosenthal

» Scouting Report: The Tigers have looked impressive facing a daunting nonconference schedule, with their lone losses coming against quality foes Menlo, St. Francis and Pioneer of San Jose.

Westmoor Rams

» This Season: 1-7

» Last Season: 13-14 (lost to Palo Alto in CCS Division II first round)

» Coach: Charlie Ohman

» Scouting Report: It has been a struggle for the Rams, who need to right their ship in league play if they plan on making a return trip to the CCS playoffs.

South Division

Carlmont Scots

» This Season: 8-4

» Last Season: 18-10 (lost to Piedmont Hills in CCS Division I semifinals)

» Coach: Dave Low

» Scouting Report: The Scots are one of the best defensive teams in the PAL, allowing just 38.5 points per game. Senior Michael Brady provides the scoring.

Half Moon Bay Cougars

» This Season: 7-4

» Last Season: 2-22

» Coach: John Parsons

» Scouting Report: A new coach (Parsons) brings new hope for the Cougars, who are playing much more competitive ball after a dismal two-win season.

Menlo Knights

» This Season: 11-4

» Last Season: 26-7 (lost to St. Mary’s of Albany in NorCal Division IV first round)

» Coach: Kris Weems

» Scouting Report: In his first season, former Stanford standout Weems coached Menlo to the NorCal first round, and with sharpshooter Max Frye (13.8 ppg) and forward Will Tashman (8.8 ppg), expectations are high.

Menlo-Atherton Bears

» This Season: 8-7

» Last Season: 21-10 (lost to Mitty in NorCal Division II quarterfinals)

» Coach: Phillip White

» Scouting Report: The Bears suffered heavy lossesfrom their CCS Division II runner-up team, but with Richard Branning (16.5 ppg) and versatile forward Sam Knapp, M-A still has the firepower to compete for a South Division title.

Sequoia Cherokee

» This Season: 0-8

» Last Season: 4-16

» Coach: Fine Lauese

» Scouting Report: It could be a long season for the Cherokees, who have struggled to score (just 30.9 ppg) in dropping their first eight games.

Woodside Wildcats

» This Season: 7-7

» Last Season: 5-17

» Coach: Mike Reynoso

» Scouting Report: Woodside has already surpassed their win total from last season and should keep improving behind the presence of Sekope Kaufusi and Steve Purcell, a pair of 6-5 post players.

— Will Reisman

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