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Vikings narrowly defeat Indians in first round of CIF State Championships

Andrew Zhao
With the score tied up midway through the fourth quarter, Viking junior point guard Gavin Haase scores a shot over a Ripon High School Indian during a game Tuesday at home. After a tough first half, the Palo Alto Viking boys’ basketball team made a comeback win against Ripion High School to advance to the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation State Boys Basketball Championships. According to Viking Head Coach Jeff LaMere, this team has worked hard to lead up to these moments. “To compete in the state tournament is incredibly gratifying,” LaMere said. “It’s a dream come true as a player and a coach. That’s what these programs strive for.” (Photo: Andrew Zhao)

In the first round of the CIF State Championships, the Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ basketball team (8-4) won a nail-biting game against Ripon Indians (10-2), 60-58, after a last-minute shot by senior Riley Yuen, on Tuesday night at home.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Indians were ranked as the 9th seed and the Vikings were ranked as the 8th seed.

According to Viking junior forward Hudson Mar, playing in the playoffs requires a different level of competitiveness and effort.

“In terms of preparation, just the overall importance and the stakes, especially for the seniors, if we lose, it’s their last game,” Mar said. “So, we really got to fight for them.”

The Indians came out strong and were making a lot of 3-pointers. Indians’ senior Dawson Downs made back-to-back 3-point shots. However, the Vikings couldn’t keep up with the Indians’ fast paced offense. The Indians gained a 6-point lead by the end of the first quarter, leading 14-20.

The Vikings were unable to shut down the Indians’ scoring opportunities leading to a 9-point deficit by the end of the second quarter. Indians’ Junior forward Marcus Madoski and senior guard Bradley Reedy ran powerful drives that scored via a layup, or through a quick pass to Downs on the perimeter who would knock down a 3-point shot. The Indians increased their lead in the second quarter to 27-36.

According to Viking head coach Jeff LaMere, their plan to limit the number of 3-pointers from the Indians did not succeed.

“We talked about giving them [Indians] no 3-pointers, and obviously we did not do a good job of that,” LaMere said. “I think they were six of eight on 3-pointers in the first half.”

Going into the third quarter, the Vikings needed to build up their offense, an effort led by junior forward Jorell Clark. Clark scored multiple layups in a row totaling 16 points in the third quarter alone. Clark’s accumulation of points allowed the Vikings to edge past the Indians, giving them their first lead of the night, with a final score of 51-42 at the end of the quarter.

Despite the Vikings’ momentum going into the fourth quarter, the Indians came surging back. Midway through the final quarter, the Indians scored four consecutive baskets and tied the game with just a few minutes left. Each team scored a layup, to net the game up at 56-56 with less than a minute left. Just before the Vikings’ possession time was up, junior Riley Yuen hit a 3-pointer to put the Vikings up by 3.

After a brief possession in which the Indians scored a layup, the Indians were forced to foul to avoid the Vikings from letting the shot clock tick away with their one-point lead. Viking senior Tyler Martin made one of his free throws and the Indians could not force overtime. The Vikings were victorious, 60-58.

Indians’ coach Dean Balcao said despite the loss, he admired the team’s perseverance.

“We came back, we were up nine and went down nine,” Balcao said. “So there [was an] 18-point swing in the third quarter. Then, we came back and tied the score.”

According to Clark, the Vikings’ mindset of staying motivated during the game helped them push forward.

“I liked the resiliency throughout the ups and downs we still kept fighting no matter what,” Clark said. “We never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”

The Vikings advance to the second round of Division 4 CIF playoffs. The Vikings will face the No. 1 overall seed, the Santa Teresa Saints, today at 7 p.m. at Santa Teresa High School.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Zhao
Andrew Zhao, Culture Editor
Andrew Zhao (Class of 2026) joined The Voice in his sophomore year and enjoys playing tennis and water polo.
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.

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