Sports: Boys Basketball Continues in CCS Playoffs After Win Over Paly
Entering the CCS playoffs seeded third, the boys basketball team took on the Palo Alto High School Vikings in the quarter finals game, winning 51-43. Leading for most of the game, often by only several points, the Bears did not let up as they fought to advance to the semi-finals next week.
The Vikings had the first possession of the game, but with the Bears coming out strong with a suffocating defense, they failed to score. Instead, senior Oliver Bucka scored the first four points of the game, with a shot from under the basket as well as two free throws. The Vikings answered by hitting a three pointer and the battle between the teams began.
Seniors Royce Branning and Ryan Roberts each hit a jump shot, and senior Brian Keare added four more points, assisted in the latter by Bucka. Bucka also contributed through his powerful rebounding, blocking shots, and yet another basket at the end of the quarter, to complete the first quarter, 14-10 M-A.
The second quarter began with a bang as Branning hit his first three pointer of the game, followed by a basket by senior Grant Henninger. However, the Vikings fought back and took the lead after two consecutive threes. Unhappy with losing their lead, the Bears attacked, with senior Markus Guegler hitting a three pointer and a free throw, and Roberts making a steal and a fast break layup. Branning closed out the quarter with two three pointers as the Bears reclaimed their lead and the momentum, going into halftime 31-23.
Although Bucka tapped in a shot with one hand several seconds into the quarter, the Bears struggled both offensively and defensively during the third. The Bears ran into foul trouble early in the second half, giving up many free throws to the Vikings. Senior Deverick Meacham, Branning, and Bucka each contributed two points to the score, but the Bears’ lead slowly dwindled as the quarter closed out 39-37, M-A.
Senior Leland Callahan began the fourth quarter for the team by sinking a three pointer. Bucka then continued the momentum, making two shots and dominating with another block. As the clock ran down, the game remained close, often with only a one-point differential between scores.
The Bears, determined to jump ahead, pulled back on their fouling and took control of the game once again. With less than a minute left, Branning hit a game-changing three pointer making it almost impossible for the Vikings to pull off a win. Callahan furthered the Bears’ chance of winning when he made both of his free throws to end the game, 51-43 M-A.
Ecstatic after the game, Coach Molieri commented, “I am so happy for the team, the whole program, the sixth man, and all of the families; its all abut our whole M-A family here.”
Reflecting on the game, he said, “I think the big thing was that we started off well. We struggled in the third quarter, but we ended in a big way.”
“We aren’t happy yet. We want to be in the CCS Championship game. That is our goal,” stated Coach Molieri, looking forward to the Semi-finals game.
The Bears take on Homestead High School this coming Wednesday at 5:30 pm at Independence High School.