Boys’ basketball defeats Fremont in last regular-season game

Benjamin Grimes, Senior Staff Writer

Senior forward Martin Segura loops the ball into the net during the Vikings’ home game victory against Fremont Saturday afternoon in their last regular-season game before the California Coast Section playoffs. According to head coach Jeff LaMere, the team is excited to keep playing basketball and participate in the playoffs. “We are just excited to be part of the playoffs, so we will see where we end up with the seed and we will do our best,” LaMere said. “It’s going to be an interesting time as there are a lot of distractions going on with graduation, senior activities, and this week with finals but I think it’s a really unique opportunity, especially during the pandemic, that we are able to find ways to continue to play basketball.” Photo: Benjamin Grimes

In the final game before the playoffs, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team (10-8) beat the Fremont Firebirds (4-14), 41-31, Saturday afternoon at home. 

Coming off a win over Mountain View, the Vikings went into the game looking to set themselves up well for the upcoming Central Coast Section playoffs. 

“It was our last regular-season game of the year, and with CCS playoffs coming up and the seeding coming up soon we really wanted to close it out with a good win,” junior forward Matt Corrigan said. “That way we could put ourselves in the best position to get a good seed for the upcoming CCS tournament.”

This month, the Vikings — who won CCS last year — have played 16 games and had eight practices, with a game or a practice every day. According to head coach Jeff LaMere, he wanted to give some of the main players some rest before the playoffs and switch up the starting lineup to give different players more playing time.

“We wanted to see if we could get some guys who hadn’t seen as much playing time and get them in,” LaMere said. “For us, this was an important game to see if those guys could provide us solid minutes and get their confidence up. … They were all juniors, and I thought they came out and played hard, defended, and shared the ball, and it shows the depth that we have on this team.” 

The Vikings demonstrated their dominance in the first half, limiting the Firebirds to just 17 points in the first half while scoring at will. Junior forward Ryan Lykken led on offense, scoring with a mix of mid-range shots and three-pointers for a combined eight points in the third quarter alone, bringing the score to 27-17 at the half. 

“We started a different group of guys than we normally do to give some of our main guys some rest before the playoffs,” Corrigan said. “They came out really strong, gave us a lot of energy, played really well defensively, and took some really good shots.”

The Vikings carried their momentum into the third quarter, with an incredibly early start. Junior forward Lucas Black scored inside, and seconds later junior guard Nikhil Majeti stole the ball for a wide-open layup. Within just one minute into the half, the Vikings managed to put up six points, which contributed to the final score of the quarter, 35-24. 

According to Corrigan, the Vikings were able to dominate the quarter due to their size advantage over the Firebirds. 

“Against Fremont, it’s one of the few teams that we actually get to play where we are bigger and more athletic,” Corrigan said. “We really used that to our advantage and we got a lot of offensive rebounds and we finished inside really well.”

The Vikings comfortably maintained their lead in the fourth quarter, with senior forward Martin Segura and senior guard Andrew Li putting points on the board to close out the game, 41-31. 

 LaMere said that getting offensive rebounds was a key part of the victory.

“We were very active, we were sharing the ball, and a lot of times when you take good shots it puts guys in positions to get rebounds and make the right play,” LaMere said. “One thing we talked about was being able to crash the offensive boards against this team, and we certainly did that.”

With CCS playoffs next in line, the Vikings look forward to competing for the title after turning around a slow start early in the season. 

“We just want to come out with a lot of energy,” Corrigan said. “We started off the season slow, we started off 0-4, but we finished 10-8 so we’ve been doing really well. … We want to keep the streak going, and we want to continue to defend our title in CCS.”