Boys’ Basketball topples Overfelt in first game of season

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In a dominating first game of the season, the Palo Alto High School varsity basketball team (1-0) crushed the Overfelt Royals (0-4), 56-25, Tuesday night at home.

Six months after their season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vikings returned to the court with months of off-season practice. According to senior shooting guard Sebastian Chancellor, the game was significant for both the new and returning varsity players.

“Starting from the preseason, we knew that, coming in, it wasn’t gonna be an easy year,” Chancellor said. “We have a lot of vets [veterans] coming back, which has been really helpful for us, [so] we can lead the younger guys. I just think that going into this game, we knew that we had to make a statement.”

According to senior point guard Max Bonnstetter, having more fans is a welcome change from last year. 

“Having support here at home games is huge,” Bonnstetter said. “It really helps us out just having the students actually being loud, the parents, everyone. It’s great for us.” 

The Vikings started off strong, putting pressure on the Royals by playing with intensity throughout the first quarter. Three-pointers from Chancellor and several shots in the paint from senior center Lucas Black helped the Vikings establish a lead. Paly then quickly managed to gain an edge over Overfelt as the period continued, ending the quarter with a score of 16-3.

According to Black, the Vikings’ aggressiveness helped them gain an early lead.

“We respect every opponent we play, but we just have that dog mentality,” Black said. “So we’re just gonna get after every single play.”

In the second quarter, both the Vikings and the Royals had trouble gaining a start and the score remained unchanged for the first four minutes. The Vikings gained momentum after senior small forward Ryan Lykken powerfully blocked a mid-range shot, but the Royals returned with a three-pointer, gaining the first points of the quarter.

After several back-and-forth runs, Chancellor scored a defining three-pointer, which was immediately followed by a rebound post shot by small forward Nikhil Majeti, making the score 21-6. The rest of the quarter was maintained by the same momentum, with the Vikings managing to score eight more points to the Royals’ four, ending the half 29-10.

Viking head coach Jeff LaMere said his game plan for the first half was to isolate the Royals’ point guard, junior Huy Nguyen, and focus on maintaining the Vikings’ defensive strength.

“I thought that defensively, the intensity in the first half was outstanding,” LaMere said. “We followed the game plan, which was trying not to let No. 1 [Nguyen] get open looks – he has been scoring a lot of points for them, and he’s a good player. And we held them to two baskets in the first half and if you can do that defensively, you’re going to be okay.”

In the third quarter, the Vikings started off strong with a three-point shot from junior shooting guard Noah Chen, maintaining control over the offensive for the majority of the match. Additionally, senior power forward Matt Corrigan was especially decisive, scoring three baskets in a row including a difficult floater shot, bringing the score to 38-10. The Vikings’ defensive was brilliantly displayed in the quarter, with Overfelt only gaining two points to Paly’s 16, closing the quarter out 45-12.

Junior point guard Jackson Martin, one of only two juniors who played in the first three quarters, said the leadership from the seniors was important for the Vikings’ strong showing.

“There’s a lot of great seniors on this team and they give a lot of advice that you could take into your [own] senior year,” Martin said. “So having them as leaders is great.”

In the fourth quarter, the Vikings and Royals both played aggressively. Offensively, the Vikings scored 11 points to the Royals’ 13, ending the game 56-25.

According to LaMere, he and his team researched their opponents beforehand by watching film clips of Overfelt, which was crucial to the teams’ success. LaMere said the film helped the Vikings defensively accommodate to Overfelt’s playing style.

“We are a man-to-man defensive team, and then you’ll always make scouting adjustments based on personnel,” LaMere said. 

LaMere said he’s confident in the team’s ability for the rest of the season.

“This team has shown that they’re able to embrace a defensive identity,” LaMere said. “And if we can continue to do that, we’ll be in a lot of ball games.”

The Vikings will play the Woodside Wildcats next, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at home.