Boys’ basketball dominates Cupertino

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Senior shooting guard Matt Corrigan sinks a three-pointer during the first quarter against the Cupertino Pioneers at home, where the Vikings won, 53-31. According to Head Coach Jeff LaMere, the Vikings’ defense was key to their victory. “we were able to score off our defense — we got deflections, [and] we got steals,” LaMere said. (Photo: Jonathan Chen)

Jonathan Chen and Arthur Wu

After taking an early lead in the first quarter, the Palo Alto High School boys basketball team (3-1) crushed the Cupertino Pioneers (2-3), 53-31, on Tuesday at home.

As the season comes to an end, the Vikings are playing an average of three games a week, much more than earlier on.  According to Head Coach Jeff LaMere, the Vikings will have many games per week now because their earlier games were canceled due to the omicron variant. 

“We had to reschedule some games in the first couple of weeks of January, which is also why we’re stacking them [games] up at the end,” LaMere said. 

The Vikings dominated the Pioneers in the first quarter, with junior point guard Noah Chen making three three-point shots. On defense, senior shooting guard Sebastian Chancellor managed to steal the ball from Cupertino multiple times, limiting Cupertino to only two points, ending the quarter with a score of 21-2. 

“If they [Cupertino] can run their offense however they want and have as much space and be as comfortable as they want, they tend to win a lot more than they lose,” Chancellor said. “So we just want to come in and try to make them uncomfortable.”

According to Cupertino senior center Shaunak Ayalasomayajula, the Vikings were able to dominate the first quarter because Cupertino’s defense was disorganized.

“We just came out flat and we’ve had some issues in the beginning of the game defensively,” Ayalasomayajula said. “We just had to limit them from getting open shots.”

Senior small forward Nikhil Majeti continued Paly’s defensive strength in the second quarter with two steals that resulted in two layups. Chancellor also scored off of his defense, making a layup off a steal and two more layups on offense. However, the Pioneers started picking up their offense and scored eight points during the quarter, making the score 32-10.

“The style of offense they [Cupertino] run forces you to guard for a whole shot clock, so you have to have great attention [to] every moment of every possession,” LaMere said. “As soon as you relax, that’s where they find their opening.” 

The Vikings started the third quarter slowly, with multiple of their possessions resulting in missed or blocked shots and even turnover steals. However, Paly still managed to score multiple times and had another steal by Junior Mert Yanar towards the end of the quarter, which finished with a score of 40-20.

In the fourth quarter, both teams scored evenly. Paly’s defense continued to outplay Cupertino, and junior point guard Jackson Martin and senior Brody Simison each stole the ball once. The game ended with a final score of 53-31.

According to LaMere, the Vikings focused a lot on defense during practice in preparation for the game.

“We were able to get a lot of steals because we were in the right place,” LaMere said. “We work on being in the right place, which then hopefully results in a good defensive play.”

Paly will play Cupertino again this Saturday, which means that the Vikings will have to continue focusing on defense in order to beat them again, according to LaMere.

“They’re going to make adjustments, they’re going to be more motivated, they’ll be sharper, and we can’t expect to make the shots we made,” LaMere said. “So we have to continue to be able to win defensively and not worry about if our shots are golden.”

The Vikings will play the Mountain View Spartans at 7:45 pm tonight at Mountain View High School.