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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

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Vikings defeat Spartans with last-minute shot

Palo Alto High School Viking shooting guard Riley Yuen dribbles toward the hoop while the Mountain View High School Spartans prepare their defense Thursday night at a league match at home. The Vikings narrowly beat the Spartans, 45-43, following a 3-pointer by Yuen in the final seconds of the match. According to Viking head coach Jeff LaMere, the slow pace of the game made each defensive and offensive opportunity much more important for the outcome of the game. “The game was played at a slower pace, so possessions were a bit longer,” LaMere said. ‘It really was a possession-by-possession ballgame. In a game like this, every basket counts and every aspect is extremely important.” (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

In a game marked with a razor-thin scoreline margin, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team (4-1) beat the Mountain View High School Spartans (2-4), 45-43, on Thursday at Paly after a last-minute comeback in the fourth quarter.

After trailing in points for the majority of the fourth quarter, senior shooting guard Riley Yuen scored a 3-pointer within the final minute, putting the Vikings ahead by two points. A failed last-ditch shot by the Spartans allowed the Vikings to secure the win.

According to Yuen, the Vikings’ strategy in the final moments was crucial, enabling them to execute a play that secured the win.

“We were down by one with about 30 seconds left, and we called up a play for [junior small forward] Jorell [Clark] to get a layup, but I was cutting the corner just in case,” Yuen said. “Jorell made that great pass, and I was ready to shoot. It was a huge shot, and I’m glad I made it.”

Senior point guard Tyler Wong said every game is important for rankings, with this one being especially crucial due to its implications for a league title. The Vikings are currently second in the De Anza League and need to have a flawless rest of the season to secure first place.

“We knew we had to come out with a win because we dropped one with Milpitas [High School Trojans],” Wong said. “We’re still trying to fish for the top spot and win a league championship.”

The first quarter began with numerous shots from both teams, but the pace eventually slowed. The Vikings took the early lead and ended the quarter with a layup from Clark and a 3-pointer from junior forward Eric Woods, setting the score to 11-6.

The second quarter began with a 3-pointer from Viking senior guard Tyler Martin. However, the Spartans retaliated with three consecutive buckets. The Spartans climbed back into the game after making six free throws. The Vikings ended the half with a lead of just one point, 21-20.

According to Wong, although the Vikings had a small lead going into the second half, they knew that maintaining focus on each play was key.

“We made sure our guys understood that every possession matters,” Wong said. “We just needed to understand that we’re right there with them and it’s a one-possession game. If we just do the little things right, we’ll have a chance at the end.”

The third quarter was a neck-and-neck battle throughout, with both teams scoring in double digits and neither gaining a significant advantage. Viking junior Hudson Mar converted a layup, giving Palo Alto a one-point lead. However, Spartan sophomore Ben Maller scored a 3-pointer in the last seconds of the quarter to put the Spartans ahead by two, ending the quarter at 33-35.

In the fourth quarter, both teams struggled to maintain a lead, with both defenses effectively shutting down offensive drives. In the last minutes of the game, Mountain View was up by four points. The Vikings gained a one-point edge with a three-pointer from Yuen and a layup by Clark, but the Spartans quickly bounced back, regaining the advantage with a 2-pointer from junior guard Jayden Minor. In a dramatic turn, Clark drove baseline and kicked it out to Yuen, who nailed the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game. The Vikings won 45-43.

According to Spartan head coach Kevin Mack, the team performed well under the mounting pressure exerted by the Vikings throughout the match.

“Both teams played hard and it was a physical game,” Mack said. “I’m proud of my guys for the way they competed. We had a chance at the end of the road, and that’s all you can ask for in our league.”

According to Viking head coach Jeff LaMere, this kind of tight and competitive game could continue in future league games with other opponents.

“Our league is very competitive this year,” LaMere said. “I think we can beat any team in the league, but I also think that any team can beat us.”

The Vikings are scheduled to play their next league match at 7:45 p.m. Saturday against the Los Gatos Wildcats (5-0), the current frontrunners in the league, at Los Gatos High School.

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About the Contributors
Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O'Brien, Sports Editor
Kevin O'Brien (Class of 2026) joined The Paly Voice in his sophomore year. Outside of journalism, he enjoys playing basketball and football.
Maxwell Zhang
Maxwell Zhang, Senior Staff Writer
Maxwell Zhang (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his sophomore year and wishes to pursue management and STEM in college.

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