Game Preview: Boys’ basketball set to continue rampage in league play
Last year’s first-round Central Coast Section (CCS) playoff loss to the Cupertino High School Pioneers (11-6, 3-2) will be fresh in the mind of the Palo Alto High School (12-2, 4-0) boys’ basketball squad when the Vikings have a chance to avenge their season-ending loss to the Pioneers at 7:45 p.m. on Friday at Gunn High School.
According to head coach Peter Diepenbrock, the image of the Pioneers celebrating on the court last year has fueled the Vikings’ anticipation for the rematch.
“It seems like the guys are very excited to play Cupertino after such a tough loss last season,” Diepenbrock said. “They know it’s going to be a great challenge because Cupertino is so well coached and has some very good players.”
The Vikings fell in a close battle to the Pioneers last February, 54-50, but Diepenbrock believes Paly have the necessary talent on its roster to take home a victory Friday evening.
“I think this year’s [Paly] team is a much more experienced team and much more composed team,” Diepenbrock said.
Junior forward and one of Paly’s leading scorers, Max Dorward, said the team has been preparing for Cupertino’s specific defensive style.
“We’ve been working on our ball security to cut down on turnovers,” Dorward said. “Especially our passing because Cupertino plays [a zone defense].”
A balanced and deep roster has proved to be one of the characteristics that has made the team so successful this year. Contributions from players off the bench have been instrumental in the teams’ results on the court.
According to junior point guard Will Schmutz, who has served as a viable backup for senior starting point guard Miles Tention, one of the keys to the game for the Vikings will be controlling the tempo.
“We hope that our press can speed them up because they like to play slow,” Schmutz said. “We hope to take them out of rhythm.”
Paly has dominated in league play thus far, winning all its league games by 13 or more points, and hopes Friday’s matchup will be no different.
The Vikings will round out the first half of league play next week against the Los Gatos Wildcats (11-5, 1-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 24.