Sports: Boys Basketball Dominates Cross-town Rival Menlo

Photo Credit: Connor Woods

Senior Royce Branning shoots a three-pointer over a Menlo Defender.

The Bears took on cross-town rival, the Menlo Knights, Fridays night in an intensely awaited battle. Taking a decisive lead in the fourth quarter, the Bears won the game 50-38.

 

The Knights earned the first possession of the game, but after fighting for the rebound, senior Oliver Bucka came back with the first basket.  Strong defense by the Knights forced the Bears to work the ball around the perimeter quickly to find any open shots.  After falling behind early the in quarter, the Bears fought back with a three from senior Leland Callahan and three perfect free throws from senior Royce Branning to tie the game.  Another three from Branning as well as two shots from Bucka and Callahan put the bears in the lead going into the second quarter.

 

The second quarter continued to be a back and forth battle between the teams, with several shots from Branning, senior Brian Keare, senior Ryan Roberts, and sophomore Skyler Lautalo.  However the Bears’ resilient defense constrained the Knights to few points, and several steals by both Roberts and Keare help to keep the Bears in the lead.  A layup at the buzzer by the Knights but a missed and one free throw closed out the half 25-22 M-A.

 

The Bears come out fighting in the third quarter with senior Markus Guegler hitting a three.  The offenses for both teams continue to struggle as neither defense let up.  Guegler was fire, hitting two more consecutive threes pulling the Bears away as the Knights attempted to make a comeback.  Senior Grant Henninger and Bucka helped the team under the basket, pulling down multiple rebounds.  To end the quarter, with one second left on the clock, Brannind up a three and made the basket off an inbound play, despite the two defenders on him.  This buzzer-beater shot caused a roar to erupt from the hundreds of M-A fans and allowed the Bears to enter the fourth quarter leading 37- 32.

 

The Bears dominated during the fourth quarter, with junior Danny LaPorte making a shot, followed by Guegler sinking both of his free throws.  Later in the quarter, Branning made another three and immediately gets the ball back to make a layup and free throw.  Callahan made the last shot for the Bears, taking a far-out three pointer.  The Bears began to run down the clock towards the end of the quarter, as they were up by 15 points.  With one last shot by the Knights, the Bears win the game 50-38.

 

“I think in the second half we really picked it up on defense, and we were a lot more physical,” commented Guegler after the game.  His teammate Roberts agreed with him, saying, “Defensively, in the second half we stepped it up and shut them down.”

 

Coach Molieri commented that the team “followed the game plan exactly.  We wanted to be very physical with [Menlo] and we were.”  He mentioned that a key moment was “Markus coming in and hitting some big threes.”

 

Coach Molieri stated, “Now there is a new power-house in this area.  Its called Menlo-Atherton.”