SARATOGA -- Keller Chryst is best known as Palo Alto's highly touted quarterback. But the 6-foot-4 junior can play a little basketball, too.
With first place in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division at stake Tuesday night, Chryst dominated near the basket as Palo Alto cruised to a 59-43 victory over Saratoga.
The Vikings (18-1, 8-0 division) stretched their winning streak to 16 games and moved two games ahead of Saratoga with four league games remaining.
Chryst finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, both season highs. Aubrey Dawkins also had 19 points for the Vikings and one tongue-in-cheek critique of Chryst's offensive game.
"He should have dunked some of those," Dawkins said, smiling. "But he got the points. I'm proud of him."
Dawkins, the Vikings' leading scorer on the season, led Palo Alto to a sizzling start as he scored nine points in the opening quarter. And Dawkins followed his own advice, dunking on an alley-oop pass for the Vikings' first points.
Palo Alto was so efficient early that Saratoga coach Trevor Naas called two timeouts before the second quarter.
"They're good," Naas said. "We know going into this that we're going to have to play a great game, and unfortunately tonight we didn't get that done. That's obviously not the start we want to draw up. Palo Alto is not the team you want to dig yourself a big hole against."
Saratoga's hole grew to 14 points before it started to claw back. The Falcons (15-5, 6-2) pulled to within 26-18 at halftime as Palo Alto went ice cold in the closing minutes of the half.
But the Vikings quickly ended any comeback hopes for Saratoga, scoring eight of the first 10 points after halftime. Chryst and Eilon Tzur combined for 15 of Palo Alto's 21 points in the third quarter.
The Vikings led 47-29 entering the fourth and coasted to the finish.
"We moved the ball well tonight," Palo Alto coach Adam Sax said. "I really thought the first and third (quarters) we played as a team, made the extra pass. We got in trouble when we started dribbling too much."
Chryst, a first-team All-Mercury News football player, entered the game averaging 6.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. He had seven points by halftime.
"For his size, he's very athletic," Naas said. "He jumps extremely well."
Chryst didn't play basketball last season because of a foot injury. But he noted that "I've played every other year pretty much my entire life."
The son of 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, Keller Chryst will miss Palo Alto's next game, Friday against Homestead, because he is going to the Super Bowl.
But he will be back for Palo Alto's stretch run toward the Central Coast Section playoffs.
"I think we've got serious potential," Chryst said. "We only have one loss, but we're ready for some stiff competition coming up in the future."
Leigh 68, Independence 58: Kimo Francisco and Josh Verner each scored 13 points to lead Leigh to a Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division victory.
The win avenged the Longhorns' three-point loss to Independence on Jan. 8 and also kept Leigh (15-5, 8-2) in a first-place tie with Piedmont Hills.
Piedmont Hills 58, Westmont 27: Three Piedmont Hills players scored in double figures, led by Eros Mendoza's 13, as the Pirates (16-4, 8-2) rolled to the Mount Hamilton Division win.
Leland 48, Oak Grove 30: Leland (14-6, 7-3) remained a game behind Piedmont Hills and Leigh as Wes Owen led the Chargers with 14 points.
El Camino 80, Terra Nova 50: Michael Smith had 29 points and 16 rebounds as host El Camino (16-4, 8-0) stayed undefeated in the Peninsula Athletic League's North Division.
Burlingame 78, Hillsdale 61: Connor Haupt scored 27 points and Nick Loew added 18 points and 16 rebounds for visiting Burlingame (12-7, 7-0).
Branham 3, Willow Glen 1: Fatmata Kamara scored two goals to give her 16 on the season as Branham improved to 7-6-2, 5-3-1 in the BVAL Mount Hamilton Division.
Archbishop Mitty 56, St. Francis 43: NiaJai Craig scored 16 points to lead Archbishop Mitty to a West Catholic Athletic League victory. The Monarchs (16-5, 8-1) continue to share the league lead with Sacred Heart Cathedral (16-4, 8-1), which beat St. Ignatius 51-48.