Boys’ Basketball Recap: Vikings escape upset with 54-41 victory over Gunn

Edward Mei and Neal Biswas

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Junior center Keller Chryst  heads back to guard Gunn center Max Girod.  Chryst finished with three points, three steals and 11 points in the game.

Junior center Keller Chryst heads back to guard Gunn center Max Girod. Chryst finished with three points, three steals and 11 points in the game.

The rivalry between Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School in boys’ basketball typically results in a lopsided Viking victory, as the Titans haven’t won against the Vikings since February 2009. At least that’s what people were expecting heading into Saturday night’s matchup, with the Vikings riding their dominant 21-1 record into Gunn’s gymnasium to challenge the Titans’ disappointing 5-15 season.

It was small versus big, bottom of the El Camino Division versus top of the De Anza Division, David versus Goliath.

And David came ready to play.

Behind a wave of emotion backed by a rowdy home crowd, the Gunn Titans (5-16, 1-8) put in a gutsy performance and threatened to pull a massive upset over the Vikings (22-1, 11-0). But the Vikings mounted a furious rally late to defeat the host Titans 54-41, securing their seventh straight victory over Gunn, and their 30th in 31 tries.

For the Vikings, senior guard Aldis Petriceks came out on fire, scoring 10 points in the starting minutes of the game, opening up a quick 10-2 lead. Yet the Titans then matched them point for point, led by senior guard Zach Wang and senior center Max Girod.

Hitting shot after shot and smothering the Vikings with a trapping zone defense, the Titans stormed into halftime with a 26-17 lead.

“Gunn played well,” Paly assistant coach Erik Olah said. “We gave them a lot of open looks and were hesitant on defense, coupled with the fact that they had better shooters than we thought, so they made a lot of shots.”

Down 35-21 late in the third quarter, the Vikings went on a 18-4 run to tie the score at 39 apiece heading into the final period.

The momentum shifted when Petriceks tossed up an alley-oop for fellow senior Aubrey Dawkins, followed by Petriceks drilling a three-pointer on the ensuing possession. Dawkins put the icing on the cake by pickpocketing Gunn’s Zach Wang and throwing down a monster two-handed dunk.

The Vikings never looked back as they opened up a double digit lead in the fourth quarter. Stifling defense held the Titans to only two points in the final quarter as the Vikings secured their 20th consecutive victory.

Senior guard Eilon Tzur prepares to shoot a free throw in last night's game against the Titans. Tzur finished with 10 points and three assists in the game. The Vikings look complete a perfect  league season as they take on the Milpitas Trojans (12-10, 6-4) 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Milpitas High School.

Senior guard Eilon Tzur prepares to shoot a free throw in last night’s game against the Titans. Tzur finished with 10 points and three assists in the game. The Vikings look complete a perfect league season as they take on the Milpitas Trojans (12-10, 6-4) 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Milpitas High School.

“This is probably biggest deficit we’ve faced in a couple of months,” Olah said. “It’s just one of those things where you test the waters with these guys, to see if they could respond to pressure. I thought they could, and they did.”

Petriceks and Dawkins led the way for the Vikings with 16 points each.

Junior guard Clark Schmutz played a key role off the bench, including a massive three-pointer to give the Vikings the lead early in the fourth quarter.

“He was huge,” Olah said about Schmutz. “He had a huge three, he had a nice little assist, but overall he had some very important minutes for us.”

Paly hopes to complete its undefeated league record with its final regular season game, a De Anza League matchup, on the road at 7:45 p.m at Milpitas High School (12-10, 6-4) on Friday.