Boys’ basketball defeats Los Gatos, 69-53

Alec Wong (‘12) calls a play during the fourth quarter of Paly’s 69-53 victory over Los Gatos.  Wong had 10 assists on the night.

Austin Poore

Alec Wong (‘12) calls a play during the fourth quarter of Paly’s 69-53 victory over Los Gatos. Wong had 10 assists on the night.

Kevin Dukovic, Staff Writer

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The Palo Alto High School boys’ basketball team defeated Los Gatos, 69-53, Friday night at Paly to improve the team’s record to 4-1 in league play and 14-2 overall.  Aubrey Dawkins (‘12) had a game high 23 points.

The Wildcats capitalized on a slow start by the Vikes, scoring the first five points of the contest and quickly jumping out to an 8-2 advantage two minutes into the first quarter.  However, Paly promptly answered, going on an 18-0 run, while holding Los Gatos scoreless for nearly four minutes.

“I thought we came out a little sluggish [in the first quarter],” Paly coach Adam Sax said. “But we got right into rhythm [when we got] the press going a little bit and we started hitting shots.”

Israel Hakim (‘12) jumpstarted the Vikings’ offense with two early layups, scoring six of the team’s 20 first quarter points.  Teammates Aldis Petriceks (‘13) and the aforementioned Dawkins, each added a three-pointer to the cause on consecutive possessions, stretching the team’s lead to 16-8.  Senior Tory Prati finished off the run with a layup, stretching Paly’s lead to 18-8 with 2:27 remaining in the first quarter.

However, the Wildcats didn’t go away.  They responded with an 8-0 run of their own, making the score 20-16 at the end of the first quarter.

After trading baskets with Gatos for the first two minutes of the second quarter, the Vikes slowly began to pull away, and never looked back.  The team’s ruthless full court press and high-pressure defense began to create turnovers for the Vikes that led to easy transitional buckets on the other end.  Before Los Gatos could figure out how to break Paly’s press, Hakim added six more points in just over a minute and Paly took a 30-20 lead.

With the second quarter winding down, Paly’s high-tempo pace and aggressive play began to wear down the Wildcats.  E.J. Floreal (‘13) topped off an impressive first half for the Vikes, connecting on a one-handed alley-oop jam courtesy of his teammate Kenny Jones (‘13).  Floreal closed out the quarter with four dunks in less than three minutes, helping to stretch Paly’s lead to 40-28 at the conclusion of the first half.

Paly picked up where they left off in the third quarter, making shots left and right and expanding on an already substantial lead. After five consecutive points from Dawkins, Paly began to spread the ball around, stringing together several passes at a time that, in one particular possession, culminated with an Alec Wong (‘12) layup that made the score 49-31. After a Gatos basket, Paly once again caught fire, going on an 11-0 run that concluded with one of Dawkins’ four three pointers on the game.  Dawkins finished with 12 points in the third quarter alone, and the Vikes finished the quarter with their biggest lead of the night, extending their advantage to 60-35.

Even with the game well in hand, Paly stayed aggressive, starting the fourth quarter off with two straight three-pointers from Dawkins and Petriceks respectively.  Dawkins managed to add two more points midway through the fourth, augmenting his total to 23.

“I came out aggressive,” Dawkins said. “I looked for my shot, and took what was available.”

Paly then cruised to a 69-53 victory, but not before Dawkins sustained an injury to his ankle late in the fourth quarter that forced him to come out of the game early.

“I took a jump shot and landed on somebody’s foot,” Dawkins said. “I might miss a game or so, but I’ll be all right.”

Overall, Sax was very satisfied with the way his team performed, and credits the team’s success to improved shooting, transition offense, and unselfishness.

“Our shooting was much higher percentage then it has been in the past and we were able to get out and run a little bit,” Sax said. “I also thought we spread the ball around much better than we did last game.”

Despite the victory, Sax believes there is still much room for improvement.

“[We need to improve our] transition defense because we lose our man a lot and we get a little confused,” he said. “We also need to stop the ball and not let [players] drive right to the hole.”

Paly’s next challenge is a Wednesday night showdown with Milpitas at Milpitas High School.