Boys’ basketball: Vikings defeat Gunn in rivalry game

Senior guard and captain Matthew Marzano dribbles the ball down the court with his eyes on the basket. Marzano made three three-point shots and kept the Titans from scoring in the third quarter. Head Coach Jeff LaMere said he commends Marzano for his ability to play and lead the team. “Matthew Marzano played a tremendous game and he picked his spots,” LaMere said. “He’s a tremendous player, one of the best players in the Bay Area, and does a great job for us as a leader and a player.” Photo: Amy Yu

In a thrilling crosstown rivalry match, the Palo Alto High School boys’ varsity basketball team (12-4, 4-0)  on Saturday defeated Henry M. Gunn High School (7-8, 3-1) 50-35. 

The Vikings dominated in the first quarter with junior guard and forward Aidan Rausch and senior forward Ryan Purpur both scoring three-point shots in the first couple plays.

According to Head Coach Jeff LaMere, this was the first time in the season where the Vikings substituted five players at once.

“With three minutes to go in the first quarter, I brought five guys off the bench,” LaMere said. “Those guys brought tremendous energy, and really, really picked it up. It’s a testament to how hard the guys are working in practice; that the guys on the bench are ready to go and actually pick up the pace.”

After Gunn scored a three-point shot, Paly rallied with back-to-back scoring layups from junior guard Simon Minami, senior guard and forward Jamir Shepard, and a basket from senior forward Elijah Steiner, ending the quarter, 14-5.

In the second quarter, the Vikings continued to dominate with baskets from Purpur and Steiner. Paly limited the Titans’ offense by maintaining a strong defense, ending the half 23-13.

The Vikings brought offensive fire in the second half. Senior guard and co-captain Matthew Marzano scored three three-point shots and Shepard scored multiple times off rebounds, ending the third quarter with the Vikings leading 40-20.

According to LaMere, the team focused on keeping the energy up and maintaining a strong defense.

“What it comes down to for us is how well we can defend,” LaMere said. “And we think that if we have a high effort level, and we played hard and defend, we’ll find success with what we do.”

Despite offensive pressure from Gunn, the Vikings maintained their lead in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Ziggy Tumallapalli, Rausch and Marzano scored on layups, rebounds, and three-pointers, ending the game, 50-35.

According to Marzano, the win brought up the team’s record and helped strengthen the team’s chemistry.

“They [the subs] stepped in and they executed really well,” Marzano said. “It was basically just like the starters were in. There’s really no difference, they played really well.”

The Vikings will face the Milpitas Trojans at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home in the big gym.