Boys Basketball ends historic season losing 78-55 to first-seeded Saint Francis High

MVHS’s Cinderella run comes to an end in the third round of CCS playoffs


Michelle Zheng

The players jump up in excitement as their teammate scores a three-pointer towards the end of the final quarter.

Minjae Kang, Vincent Zhao, and Michelle Zheng

Varsity Boys Basketball lost 78-55 to first-seeded Saint Francis High School in the third round of the 2023 CIF Central Coast Section Division II playoffs on Tuesday, Feb. 21. MVHS struggled early on in the game, falling to a quick 17-8 deficit in the first quarter. Going into the second quarter, SFHS continued to dominate the court, scoring five points in the span of one minute and bringing the overall score to 22-8. 

Senior Austin Hwang, the lead scorer for MVHS in the previous playoff victory against Gunn High School, says SFHS had a strong physical defense, only allowing him to score one point in the entire game. Starting the fourth quarter with MVHS losing 65-35, MVHS found a surge of energy after subbing in a lineup with all seniors, who helped the team cut the lead down to 23 points by the end of the game. 

Despite losing by a wide margin, Head Coach Wade Nakamura is more than satisfied with the team’s efforts of being able to compete with such a strong team. Nakamura feels proud of how far the team was able to go this season. 

“That’s just our team’s spirit, we’re not looking at the scoreboard, saying ‘we’re down 20 something,’” Nakamura said. “We’re gonna finish and leave everything, [all the negative emotions], on the court .”

Hwang says MVHS displayed a strong performance against SFHS despite disadvantages in height. Though MVHS often lacks the advantage of being taller than opponents like SFHS and GHS, MVHS managed to overcome them by playing with passion and putting hard work into every game. Hwang says the players’ motivation to achieve its goal of winning state championships pushed them to win in previous games and gain this success.

MVHS spectators gather at the edge of the glass bridge, chanting senior Itai Lavi’s name in celebration of his three-pointer during the game. (Michelle Zheng)

“We were the underdogs coming into [the playoffs] and a lot of people around the league didn’t expect us to win,” Hwang said. “But we stayed the course and proved that even if you don’t have the height, you always have the heart. ”

Senior and shooting guard Itai Lavi highlights the importance of the teamwork and camaraderie that pushed the team this far. While he made a three pointer that excited the spectators and his teammates near the end of the game, Lavi instead explains that his favorite memory of the game is when senior and point guard Shreyas Inampudi was able to get him open to shoot by “crossing up” his defender. 

“My most memorable moment was actually passing up a shot and getting my teammate a wide open look,” Lavi said. “I’m not looking forward to myself scoring all the time. It’s getting good looks for my teammates. That’s what it’s all about. My teammates took care of me and I tried to take care of them.” 

After the game, Hwang felt a mix of “nostalgia, excitement and sadness,” reflecting on his last game as part of the MVHS basketball team and his season as a whole. Hwang feels proud of how far the team has come, not ever expecting to play in the third round of CCS playoffs against a West Catholic private school. Both Hwang and Lavi express their gratitude to the coaching staff and teammates for providing opportunities and pushing the team through the season. 

“I feel like I should be sad that we lost,” Hwang said. “But to be honest, I’m more grateful that I had the opportunity to play in a CCS game against the number one seed.”

Senior Austin Hwang celebrates his last game as part of the MVHS basketball team by taking a picture with his friends and family. (Vincent Zhao)

For the next season, Nakamura wants the players to improve their physical strength. Highlighting how SFHS’s physical defense caused the team many issues throughout the game, Nakamura believes the key to propelling the team further is to build up strength through conditioning to deal with teams like SFHS. 

“You could tell that [SFHS was] well-conditioned and physical,” Nakamura said. “This is a team we’ll have to beat if we want to win a championship. If we want to have a chance against [them] in the future, we have to really dedicate ourselves [in] getting into the weight room and getting stronger.”

Lavi sees a great future for the MVHS, but believes that the team must battle through adversity in order to go further. However, he hopes that the prospective players will continue to have fun.

“[As a team, go] through the ups and downs, but not just the ups,” Lavi said. “Just weather the storm and bow through adversity and it’ll all be worth it. It’s a joy to spend time with my teammates, [and] I’m grateful to be part of a team that feels like family.”