Boys basketball: Matadors fall to 0-2 after losses to Burlingame HS and Oak Grove HS


Pranav Iyer

Dec. 3: Game 1

Story by Pranav Iyer and Aditya Pimplaskar. 

“They were playing five on nothing,” coach Clay Stiver said. “It’s easy to get shots when nobody’s guarding you. We just didn’t put the pressure on. They got anything they wanted to get.”

The boys basketball team was prepared and excited for their season opener against Burlingame HS on Dec. 3. But from the get-go, the Panthers dominated the matchup and continued to do so for the majority of the game, causing the Matadors to fall 72-48.

“You can’t come out at this level and screw around for three minutes in the first quarter and expect to win the game,” Stiver said. “Nothing ever comes easy.”

Despite the overwhelming score, the problem for the Matadors was not ball movement. They were able to get open shots and several second chance possessions throughout the game, but were just not able to capitalize on them.

Ryan Lee pulls up for a mid-range jumper against Burlingame HS on Dec. 3. The Matadors' inability to hit shots all game led to their defeat. Photo by Pranav Iyer
Ryan Lee pulls up for a mid-range jumper against Burlingame HS on Dec. 3. The Matadors’ inability to hit shots all game led to their defeat. Photo by Pranav Iyer

“We were 2-of-25 from three,” Stiver said. “We got shots, we just couldn’t freaking make anything.”

Not only did they shoot 8 percent from beyond-the-arc, but also shot 26 percent on total field goal attempts. From chip shots to wide-open jumpers, the Matadors could not get anything to go their way.

On the defensive side the ball, they were no match for the Panthers’ combo of big man, senior Bassel Mufarreh, and point guard, senior Vinny Ferrari. Mufarreh was able to use his 6’5’’, 232-pound frame to body up the bigs of the Matadors, scoring on feeds from his guards and easy second chance opportunities. His success in the paint was was perfectly displayed by his stat-line: 8-8 for 18 points.

“We played soft,” sophomore Ryan Lee said. “They weren’t bigger than us but we could have played bigger.”

In order to limit the dominance of Mufarreh, the Matadors switched to a zone defense later in the game. This created open shots for BHS guards, including Ferrari, who finished the night with 27 points on 11-14 shooting. Having played Ferrari last year, the Matadors were well aware of his shooting abilities, but still were not able to close out on his shot attempts fast enough. Ferrari’s ability to move without the ball and find small openings led to his command over the game. He made several threes on wide open catch-and-shoot opportunities as well as blow-by drives to the basket.

Video by Pranav Iyer.

Throughout, Ferrari and the BHS guards constantly pushed the ball. They caught the Matadors by surprise on fast breaks as a result of MVHS’ missed shots and turnovers.

“I think the pace of the game is what scared us,” Stiver said. “We didn’t come out with energy. They started pushing the ball and that’s scary to us.”

What may be the lone bright spot in the game for the Matadors was their short run in the fourth quarter. After a devastating third quarter that created a 31-point deficit, the Matadors’ options looked bleak. However, on a 14-7 run in the fourth, propelled by seniors Golan Gingold, Andrew Ding and Mark Geha on offense, the Matadors finally showed some life and potential of future success to come.

Ultimately, the temporary momentum swing was not nearly enough for the Matadors to climb back from the abyss of a deficit they dug for themselves with their lack of effort early on. They will look to come off of this loss with a new purpose and new goals on their mind — make open shots and start a winning mindset.

“It’s hard to go down from here,” Stiver said. “We can be a good team. I think that’s what makes it so frustrating. We just need to be ourselves and live out our identity.”

Photos by Pranav Iyer. 

Dec. 5: Game 2

Story by Kalpana Gopalkrishnan and Pranav Iyer.

A double-digit lead cut down to seven. The Matadors had the Eagles right where they wanted them in the fourth quarter. However, their momentum was short-lived. The Eagles’ Patrick Ong went on to score two threes, draw a charge and score on a drive-by layup to single handedly put the game out of reach.

MVHS lost their second straight game 57-37 to Oak Grove HS on Dec. 7, causing them to drop to 0-2. Again, they were brought down by their lack to shoot the ball with any consistency and their inability to haul in defensive boards.

The game began with lackluster offense from both teams. While MVHS’ defense made a strong showing, the numerous offensive rebounds the Eagles were getting allowed them to keep their consistent lead even when their shots weren’t falling.

As the Eagles’ offense slowly improved, the began to pull away from MVHS. Still, the Matadors’ steady defense is what kept them within striking distance. The problem was that the offense was never able to capitalize on the opportunities its defense gave them.

Although the Matadors are 0-2, this record may be misleading. Both OGHS and Burlingame HS were playoff teams last year and have speed and size that the Matadors will likely not see in league play. Games like these early on in the season will help prepare the Matadors for the challenges they will face when games start to matter more.

Video by Pranav Iyer. 

MVHS will host The Harker HS on Saturday Dec. 19 at 12:30 p.m.