El Estoque

Girls varsity basketball seize first league victory 71-66 against Mountain View

Dickson Tsai

The Matadors pull out an impressive rally as the game ends





Senior Alex Chiu had 31 points and junior Steffanie Sum added 22 as the Matadors took home their first league win on the road against Mountain View on Jan. 26. Video compiled by Dickson Tsai. Music: “New York City” by Alex / CC BY-NC 3.0


“Get back in the water!”

In the wake of the tragic death of co-athletic director and coach Ron Freeman, the Lady Matadors adopted Freeman’s words and his give-it-all attitude in their team cheer. Then, they made a monumental comeback on Jan. 26 at Mountain View High School in front of a raucous Spartan crowd.

The Matadors (7-10, 1-5) came back with a 9-0 run to defeat the Mountain View Spartans (7-10, 0-6) for their first De Anza League victory. Monta Vista was able to overcome nine 3-point shots from the sharp Spartan shooters by drawing 36 free throws and keeping the Spartans in foul trouble.

“It’s so satisfying,” captain senior Alex Chiu said. “Everyone stepped up, and everyone fought really hard. It’s just so good to know that all of our hard work and strength throughout the game, it paid off in the end.”

Senior Alex Chiu gets fouled as she rises for a lay-up. She scores 31 points as the Matadors pick up their first league victory 71-66 at Mountain View. Photo by Dickson Tsai.Chiu carried the team with 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 steals, 17 of which came from the free-throw line. Point guard junior Steffanie Sum, the other captain, added 22 points, including two critical three-point shots to keep the Matadors close.

“It was just team effort and them not giving up,” head coach Sara Borelli said. “We’ve been working on a lot of things leading up to this, sliding in front of people, getting the right lanes, passing, and it just all came together today.”

After being held by Lynbrook High School to just 28 points in their previous game, the Matadors unleashed their power against the Spartans, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds to create valuable second opportunities. Senior Crystal Hsu seized six offensive rebounds, some that helped the Matadors preserve their victory late in the game.

“We took advantage of the fact that they weren’t too tall,” Chiu said. “Lynbrook had a couple of tall players, but then this team wasn’t too tall.” 

In the first quarter, Monta Vista jumped to an early 5-2 lead, but the Spartans pulled ahead by two with help from a three-point basket. Then, the two teams seesawed back and forth in a blistering offensive performance to end the quarter with the Matadors leading 18-17.

Throughout the first half, there were nine ties and seven lead changes. But with two seconds left, the Spartans made another three-point shot to turn the tide as the Spartan fans burst into cheer.

It was all Mountain View in the third quarter, as the Matadors had trouble recovering from the three-point shot they coughed up before halftime. The Spartans went on a 15-4 run to open up their biggest lead of the game, 45-34.

“We haven’t been shooting very well percentage-wise, so that was a very good sign for us,” Mountain View head coach Judy Auclair said. “We thought we had the momentum back with us.”

With the Spartan crowd at the edge of their seats and the Matadors all but deflated, the Matadors still chipped at Mountain View’s lead, keeping themselves alive by their rebounding.

Suddenly, the Matadors got their sorely needed boost from senior Nicole Mohrmann. After catching a short pass from Sum, she hit a pivotal three-pointer with thirteen seconds left, igniting the team and the small Monta Vista contingent that came to support the team. The Matadors were now only down 48-52 entering the fourth quarter.
Teammates help pull up sophomore Megan Tsao after an exhilarating 71-66 finish over Mountain View High School. The Matadors pick up their first win in the De Anza League with this victory. Photo by Dickson Tsai.
Each time the Matadors tried to fight back in the fourth quarter, the Spartans would answer with their own buckets. However, with under three minutes left, Sum knocked down her three to break the Spartans’ rhythm. From there, the Matadors pulled away with insurance free throws.

“[Chiu] controls the tempo of the game, so she’s doing well,” head coach Sara Borelli said. “But I think Steff[anie Sum] stepped it up tonight, and that was the most important.”

The Matadors turned the ball over 24 times while the Spartans finished with only 19 turnovers. Yet, the missed opportunities and inability to rebound cost the Spartans at the end of the game, as they allowed the Matadors to take over in the last few minutes.

“[Monta Vista] outplayed us tonight,” Auclair said. “It came down to some shots that we missed, and there was a lack of concentration.”

“We really want to keep this up, because, this is how we’re going to have to play,” Chiu said. “Drive to the basket, get to the line…We just wanted to win today, because losing sucks.”

The Matadors host powerhouse Palo Alto High School (13-2, 7-0) on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Game Notes:
After the game, Borelli was still affected by Freeman’s passing away on Jan. 21. “We’ve dedicated this season to Mr. Freeman,” Borelli said. “His spirit will run through us.” … Sum and Hsu both sustained mild injuries from falling hard onto the court, but both were able to return to the game. … Junior Hitomi Sugimoto was still inactive with a right hand injury, but is close to returning to play. … The game was broadcast on local television in Mountain View…

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