On senior night, the Palo Alto High School Boys’ basketball team (22-2, 12-0) dominated the Cupertino High School Pioneers (15-9, 6-6) 58-34, capping off a perfect season in De Anza League play.
After a ceremony honoring the nine seniors on the team, the Vikings got right to basketball, coming out with strong play on both sides of the ball.
“Setting the time defensively has become a huge part of our game this year,” senior guard Jared Wulbrun said. “Last year, whenever we had tough games, the other team always had us on our heels with strong ball pressure, and this year, we wanted to be the ones who dictated the tempo of the game.”
Wulbrun came off the bench firing, and led the Vikings in scoring with 15 points off five three-pointers. Senior forward Max Dorward had 11 points, while seniors Bryant Jefferson and Paul Jackson III each chipped in eight.
The Vikings were on a roll in the first half, scoring 18 points in both the first and second quarter, while simultaneously holding the Pioneers to 18 points in the whole first half.
The Vikings didn’t let timeouts or clock stoppages throw them off of their game, as highlighted by a Dorward two-handed slam out of a timeout.
Strong full court ball pressure from senior guard Will Schmutz early in the game helped force the Pioneers into uncomfortable positions, leading to tough shot selection and turnovers, where the Vikings were able to capitalize.
Schmutz credits their play on both sides of the ball to growth over the course of the season.
“I think we have grown a lot on the defensive end,” Schmutz said. “With more ball pressure, we are able to create offense with our defense.”
Riding their momentum throughout the whole game, the Vikings finished with 58 points and held Cupertino to 16 points in the second half, leaving the Pioneers with a total of 34.
Cupertino, led by guard George Ellegood, who scored 17 points against the Vikings, and is averaging 17.4 points per game, according to maxpreps.com
Every point scored for Paly against Cupertino was scored by a senior, a group of players that is sure to be missed next season. However, Schmutz still believes that the program will have a strong team.
“The program still should be really solid next year because it still has lots of young talent and definitely has a great chance to win league,” Schmutz said.
The Vikings will graduate Schmutz, Wulbrun, Dorward, Jefferson, Jackson III, William Schlemmer, Spencer Rojahn, Brey Johnson and Nicholas Zhao after this season.
Wulbrun took a moment to reflect on his experience as a two year player for the varsity team.
“It’s been a great ride these past two years at Paly, but we know the real season is just now starting,” Wulbrun said. “We’ve lost one league game in two years, so we know we can handle whatever comes our way from here on out.”
The Vikings now await to be seeded in the Central Coast Section tournament, where they are projected to play in the Open Division.