Boys basketball: Team falls to Saratoga Falcons

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Boys basketball: Team falls to Saratoga Falcons

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Aditya Pimplaskar

A silence fell over the crowd as the announcer read off the names of the Matadors’ starting lineup. Just as he said the word “Falcons”, the crowd erupted, coating the entire row of bleachers in red. Fresh off of the excitement of their senior night ceremony, the Falcons came out strong, taking the Matadors by surprise.

Senior Aunoy Poddar dribbles the ball down the court against Saratoga HS. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Senior Aunoy Poddar dribbles the ball down the court against Saratoga HS on Feb. 17. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

The Matadors took on the Saratoga Falcons on Feb. 17. The intense matchup that followed Saratoga’s senior recognition ceremony concluded with the Falcons defeating the Matadors 54-45.

As the Matadors struggled to gain momentum in the first quarter, the Falcons rode their success, gaining a lead of five by the end of the quarter. “We didn’t come out with enough energy,” junior Ashween Manimaran said. “We needed more intensity.”

The second quarter rolled around and the Falcons came out with a stellar shooting performance, as the Matadors’ frustration built up. Junior Andrew Ding was able to slow the momentum temporarily with an easy three, but the Falcons were quick to answer back. A drive to the basket along with a foul led to a three point play, which fired up the crowd. Minutes later senior Robert Lee’s shot was rejected by an SHS player. The crowd responded with more cheers. By halftime, SHS led 35-21.

The Matadors looked to bounce back in the third quarter, but their early success led to taunting by the crowd. As they took free throws or handled the ball, statements such as “Mommy is watching” and “Shoot it” were flying around. According to Manimaran and head coach Clay Stiver, the comments were funnier than they were hurtful.

The Matadors came out in the third and drove to the rim more often. This led to an increase in free throws in the quarter. With three minutes left in the quarter, the Falcons began to sub in their bench players. The Matadors, in turn, stepped up their game to look to capitalize on the players’ inexperience. Manimaran hit two consecutive threes to try and get MVHS back into the game. However, as the quarter wound down, the Falcons regained their rhythm, putting up second chance points off of offensive rebounds. Looking back, Stiver believes that this quarter was one of the positives to take from the game.

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Head coach Clay Stiver discusses game strategy with the team. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

“We had a couple good spreads,” Stiver said. [We won the third quarter] which was pretty solid. But [SHS] shoot[s] the ball so well. It’s tough to have an answer for everything.”

Though the Matadors’ chances looked bleak, the team looked to make a final push. The Matadors opened with sloppy ball handling, turning the ball over three times before making a fast break outlet pass to Manimaran, which led to an easy two points The Matadors, having cut the lead to single digits, still saw hope. The players’ motivation was seen through the team’s louder “Defense” cheers, but they were contested by “Let’s go Toga” chants erupting from around the stadium

As the fourth quarter continued, an SHS player was injured on a scramble for a loose ball. The clock continued to run and the Matadors began to foul SHS players, hoping to regain possession of the ball quickly while preserving time on the clock.

With 28 seconds remaining, SHS seniors entered the game for their final stand and the game concluded with a round of applause to honor them. The Falcons defeated the Matadors by a score of 54-45.

 

The Matadors will face league rivals Cupertino HS at home on Feb. 20th at 7:45 pm. The Senior Recognition ceremony will be held prior to the game.