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Boys’ b-ball blown out by Wildcats in league champion match

Palo Alto High School Viking junior small forward Jorell Clark dribbles past Wildcat players in order to clear a path to the basket during the Senior Night and league champion match on Tuesday. The Vikings fell to the Los Gatos High School Wildcats 34-48 after multiple missed shots and turnovers. According to Clark, even though the outcome wasn’t the one that they wanted, the Vikings still tried their hardest throughout the entire game. “I love how we competed no matter what,” Clark said. “We never quit, and we gave it our all, especially for the seniors. We really wanted this one, but we came up short.” (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

In a game dominated by defensive plays, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team (8-4) suffered a 34-48 blowout loss to the Los Gatos High School Wildcats (9-3) in a game that decided the league championship.

According to Wildcat head coach Nick Ward, his team chose to ignore the added pressure and practiced like normal.

“We went into it [the game] and just said, ‘Hey, it’s another game,’” Ward said. “We knew what’s at stake, but it’s just another game of 32 minutes.”

Viking head coach Jeff LaMere said his team made sure to stick to the basics of scouting their opponent, and their strategy paid off.

“We scouted like we normally do and prepared, and our game plan ended up being pretty good in that No. 11 [senior forward Nolan Koch] for them was scoring about 18 points a game, but I don’t think he had double figures tonight,” LaMere said.

According to junior small forward Jorell Clark, the added pressure of the league title and his team’s Senior Night made the Vikings more eager to win.

“All the league title did was just make us compete harder,” Clark said. “It didn’t affect us negatively at all, as Gatos played a great game, and they just out-competed us.”

The first quarter had barely any offense. Both teams’ defenses consistently shut down offensive plays, with numerous blocks by Viking senior center Aiden Hangebrauck, allowing only three shots to be made by each team. The quarter ended with a tied score of 6-6.

Ward said that the low scoring in the first quarter was not a surprise given the stellar defenses of both teams. 

“We both prepared our defense and take pride in defending,” Ward said. “So, I was not surprised that scoring wasn’t a premium to start.”

The second quarter saw the Wildcats take a significant lead, despite being low-scoring. Wildcat junior guard Scotty Brennan and Koch were both able to put up the majority of points, including a mid-air catch and shoot following an inbound pass at the beginning of the quarter. Despite having numerous shots, the Vikings were only able to score once from a shot by senior shooting guard Alaap Nair. The quarter ended with a score of 8-16.

According to junior guard Osha Moloney, the Wildcats’ ability to continue their dominance into the second half is what made the difference in this game.

“We normally come out really strong in the first quarter, and usually in the first half, but the second half is usually where we struggle in games,” Moloney said. “The game plan for the second half was basically to play the same way we played in the first half.”

LaMere said the difficulties in the second quarter were the main cause of the Vikings’ downfall throughout the game. 

“We played a really good team who played great defense and we couldn’t hit shots in the first half,” LaMere said. “We let them get that little 10-0 run at the end of the half, and it was tough for us to come back from that. To only score eight points is both a testament to their defense and a testament to poor offense.”

In the third quarter, the scoring shifted back and forth between the teams, with the Wildcats and the Vikings alternating shots throughout the quarter. The Vikings gained momentum after junior point guard Gavin Haase and senior point guard Tyler Wong hit two quick consecutive 3-pointers. However, the Wildcats quickly regained control, responding with two consecutive shots of their own to extend their lead even further. By the end of the quarter, the score was 31-18 in favor of the Wildcats.

In the final quarter, the Vikings picked up the pace with their offense, but the Wildcats’ defense stood strong. Both Viking junior forward Eric Woods and Clark led the Viking offense, while Wildcat junior guard Anthony Martin consistently scored to counterbalance the Vikings’ efforts. Ultimately, the Vikings couldn’t outscore the Wildcats in the quarter, leading to a Wildcat victory with a final score of 48-34.

Ward said the Wildcats were prepared for the Vikings to try their hardest given the circumstances.

“We understood that Paly was going to come out and give it their best effort, especially on their home floor, especially on senior night,” Ward said. “Obviously, there was a lot at stake; I thought we did a good job.”

According to LaMere, even though the Vikings did not get the win, they put in the work throughout the game.

“I thought our effort was there all night,” LaMere said. “We didn’t always execute, but I thought our guys played tremendously hard. It might have been the most physical game I’ve seen this year, and our guys were up to the task, we just couldn’t get enough offense to be able to win.”

The Vikings are scheduled to play their first Central Coast Section Division One playoff match in the upcoming weeks.

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About the Contributors
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki, Senior Staff Writer
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his junior year and enjoys volunteering in his free time.
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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