Once a Matador, always a Matador

Once a Matador, always a Matador

Varada Gavaskar

Past and current MVHS basketball players face off after Thanksgiving.

Post-Thanksgiving turkey comas didn't stop past and present Matadors from coming out to participate in the third annual alumni basketball games on Nov. 28. Three current teams—boys varsity, boys junior varsity, and girls varsity—took on alumni MVHS basketball players who graduated as early as 1991.

Junior Kelli Sum watches as Sophia Tam, class of 2007, makes her move. Photo courtesy of Steff Sum.

With the stands filled with students, parents, and friends of alumni players, the first game tipped off at 3 p.m. between the junior varsity team and almost every class of 2007 player as well as class of 2008 graduate, Wayne Pao. The atmosphere of the game for the alumni was casual and audience-interactive as parents of the alumni team told their boys to "walk [the ball] on down" the courts.

Informally coached by class of 2007 player Brett Colloton's college roommate, WooJin Shin, it didn't take long for the alumni team to realize that they were a little out of shape.

"Hey, Calvin! That's the game, right?" class of 2007 alumnus Phil Kou shouted to JV basketball coach Calvin Wong as the alumni began their resting period after the 20 minute first half had ended. The score was 40-27 in favor of the alumni.

While the alumni relaxed during halftime (some even choosing to lie flat on the court without moving), the current J.V. team was huddled, discussing how they would attack the next half of the game. For their team, this game was to be treated as a real one.

"[The game] was a lot more laid back, but we were supposed to treat it as a real game, and we did in the second half," sophomore J.V. player Jason Hodges said.

As the game continued into the second half, the alumni team managed to keep their lead with only a few mishaps such as Colloton's airballed pass all the way down the court, to which he replied, "My bad…I meant to get it more up!" and ended the game with a score of 64-48, alumni.

Varsity basketball coach Matt Tait came up with the idea of having an annual alumni game three years ago to prepare current teams for their league season as well as keep older players involved with the MVHS basketball program. Tait also encouraged the idea to see his own former players.

"It's always fun to watch them come back and play when they don't have to put up with me yelling at them," Tait said.

Though the boys teams has played in an alumni game for the past three years, this year marked the very first alumni game for the girls basketball team. The current varsity team came out to face alumni as far back as the class of 2001 to the most recent graduated class of 2008.

Just like the JV boys team, the girls were instructed to treat the game as a real one so they could use it as practice.

For the first 38 minutes of the game, the score remained low with the alumni holding a slim lead. With 43 seconds remaining, junior Kelli Sum sank a three-pointer to tie the game up 31-31, forcing the teams into an intense overtime of four minutes. In the final minute, class of 2007 player Sophia Tam made a basket, bumping the alumni's score up to a 33-31 lead. Following her shot, the varsity team shot a three pointer to take the lead 34-31. A few key baskets and successful free-throws, however, gave the game to the alumni with a final score of 36-34.

Though they had lost, both the varsity players and coach Sara Borelli were content with the results.

"In the beginning they were getting all the points and I thought we were going to get smoked, but we didn't," Sum said.

"We played good defense, good man-on-man defense," Borelli said of the performance by her varsity team, which was missing two players.

The high intensity continued on to the game between alumni and the current boys varsity team. The alumni, whose graduation years ranged from 1991 to 2008, were prepared for a fast-paced basketball game against the "Shoot 3's, play D" varsity team. The game, scheduled to start at 5 p.m., tipped off a little before 6 p.m.

Though there was a noticeable average height difference between the current players and taller, older alumni, the varsity team made the alumni work for every shot, made evident by the 56-36 lead they held as they entered halftime. Through the entire second half, the varsity team held their lead and ended the game with a final score of 58-41, giving the varsity team the only win for a current MVHS team.

For the alumni, the biggest obstacle posed to them was coming together as a team because many players had never played with each other on a team before. But each team had single reason that worked for them on the court.

"Even though we hadn't played together," class of 2001's Katherine Fuster said, "it was like, you know what? We're a team. And I think we did really well."