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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Vikings fall to crosstown rivals in harrowing overtime

Palo Alto High School Viking junior point guard Gavin Haase attempts a layup while two Henry M. Gunn High School Titans try to block the shot Saturday night during the second crosstown rivalry match on Saturday night. The Vikings narrowly lost to the Titans, 63-65, after the game extended to overtime following a fourth quarter comeback by the Vikings. According to Viking senior shooting guard Riley Yuen, although the Vikings gained momentum from the comeback, they were unable to secure a win in the closing moments of the game. “We felt really confident going overtime,” Yuen said. “We knew we would have to lock in on defense. We had our chances on offense, but we missed too many open hoops.” (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

In their second rivalry matchup this season, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team (7-3) fell to the Henry M. Gunn High School Titans (2-7), 63-65, on Saturday at home in a tight game that extended to overtime.

Entering the game, the Vikings were tied for first in the De Anza League with Los Gatos Wildcats (7-2) and needed a win to claim the lead, having already defeated the Titans earlier in the season.

After a fourth-quarter comeback, the highlight of the match came in the season’s first overtime for the Vikings. The Vikings initially took the lead, but their momentum faded after Titan senior guard James Ford scored a layup, tying the game at 63-63. In the final seconds, Ford made a desperate long-range attempt from well beyond the three-point line, which fell short and landed in the hands of Titan junior Adivaith Krishnan, who scored the game-winning putback.

According to Viking senior shooting guard Riley Yuen, the Vikings did a good job persevering throughout the game, despite facing a significant point deficit for the majority of the match.

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“We fought really hard, especially in the fourth quarter,” Yuen said. “They [the Titans] had pretty much all the momentum the whole game, so I’m really proud of the team for coming out and forcing overtime. It was just really unlucky to lose that way.

Viking head coach Jeff LaMere said despite the Vikings’ extra effort to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter and overtime, the Titans ultimately prevailed.

“We had a lot of steals at the end, but then we fumbled the ball and that was tough,” LaMere said. “We had our chances, and we were right there. But, the Titans made the winning plays at the end.”

The first quarter started strong for the Titans, who quickly gained a seven-point lead with a series of 3-pointers and layups in the opening minutes. Despite Viking junior forward Jorell Clark scoring nine points in the quarter, the Titans maintained the lead with consistent offensive pressure. The Titans ended the quarter with a slight lead, 15-14.

The second quarter was a struggle for the Vikings on both ends of the court. The Vikings were unable to contain Titan senior point guard Ethan Kitch, who alone outscored the entire Vikings team in the second quarter with five consecutive layups and 3-pointers. By halftime, the Titans had taken the lead, with the score at 36-28.

According to Kitch, the Titans adjusted their strategy during halftime in an effort to preserve their lead for the remainder of the game.

“We were going too slow and weren’t really taking our shots,” Kitch said. “We were scared of losing the lead, so we got in that attitude where we just played our game. Our mindset was to win by 25.”

The third quarter saw a better offense execution from the Vikings. The momentum shifted in favor of the Vikings after Clark broke away for a steal and flushed a transition dunk, causing the Viking crowd to reestablish the electric atmosphere from the first quarter. Nevertheless, the Titans still hung on to the lead at the end of the quarter, 45-52. 

In the fourth quarter, Kitch continued his dominant performance until he was called for his 5th foul and had to sit out the remainder of the game. This hindered the Titans’ offense and allowed the Vikings to climb back into the game. Clark had another solid quarter scoring eight points, including a mid-range jumper to tie the game in the final seconds. Due to this shot and solid late-game defense, the quarter concluded in a tie, 61-61.

Both teams struggled under the immense pressure in overtime, with barely any offense taking place. The game was tied 63-63 as the final seconds ticked by. With only a few seconds remaining, Krishnan was able to catch a missed 3-pointer attempt from Ford and sink the game-winning shot. The Titans were victorious 65-63.

Kitch said the challenge of playing in this rivalry match was intensified by the large crowds from both Paly and Gunn.

“When there are this many people here and you’re not used to it,” Kitch said. “It’s really easy to get rattled and to just not play your game. It was such a group effort to win that game: the way that we all played together and the way we played team defense. I’m just really proud of us as a team and our ability to stay composed and play our game with that crowd.”

LaMere said he was still satisfied with the performance of the team even though the Vikings lost.

“We were dead in the water for a while, and they were scoring well,” LaMere said. “For us to find a way to put that game into overtime is a testament to the resiliency of our team.”

In order to remain in contention for the De Anza League championship and tie with the Los Gatos High School Wildcats (7-3), the Vikings will need to win the remainder of their league matches. The Vikings are scheduled to play their penultimate league game against the Mountain View Spartans (6-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mountain View 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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