Male team of the year: Boys’ Basketball

Paul Bienaimé, Multimedia Editor

    After graduating four starting seniors and losing star player E.J. Floreal (Laurence Dunbar ‘13) from the 2011-2012 season, the Paly boys’ basketball team came into 2013 with big positions to fill. Floreal averaged 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and, with the seniors, led the team to the Central Coast Section (CCS) semi-finals where the vikings fell to St. Francis in overtime.

    Last winter, Palo Alto High School’s male Varsity basketball team was forced to create a new starting lineup hoping to go far in the 2012-2013 season.

    Starting on a blank slate with no returning starters, the team had to pull it together while mapping out their new lineup and new plays, preparing for certain games and tournaments and, most importantly, figuring out how to create the strongest team with the potential found in all new players.

    This year’s team put the loss of a star lineup and forward behind it and collaborated its  talent as a whole rather than being successful through one key player. Combining skill sets found in each player to create an ultimate team, the Vikings were able to finish their season with a 23-4 overall and a 12-0 league record.

    In 2011, Scotty Peery (‘13) and Eilon Tzur (‘13) decided to play on their National Junior Basketball team rather than getting minimal playing time with the Vikings. The two came back for their senior season in 2012 and were crucial to the team’s success.

“Scotty has been probably our best 3 point shooter percentage wise,” head coach Adam Sax said. “He’s also [did] other things like getting loose balls and [was] a very good shooter and we want him to continue to shoot the 3 point shot.”

Along with the two seniors, Varsity quarterback Keller Chryst (‘14) decided play again this season, after his injury enabled him to play his sophomore year. Although this brought attention to others regarding the effect on his football career, worrying about the future was the least of his concern.

“I’m not really too worried about looking too far ahead in my future and career,” Chryst said. “I just wanna have fun and enjoy what I have right now and you can’t live life just thinking your gonna get hurt doing everything you do.”

Despite the loss of a strong starting lineup and key forward E.J., the boys’ Varsity basketball team has been given the 2013 Male Team of the Year award for their perfect league season and 21 game winning streak led by their new rooster and starters.

Returning point guard Aldis Petriceks (‘13) played Paly basketball all four years and has experienced being on the team with and without E.J. The newer team quickly found their strength which led them to success.

“The chemistry of this team is a lot better this year,” Petriceks said during the season. “I think guys are much more relaxed and I think the offense flows much better. We’re playing better basketball thats for sure.”

With the dozen of points E.J. put on the board per game and the seven rebounds or so he fought for, the 2011-2012 basketball team had confidence in the 6’4” forward, and when in doubt, gave him the ball for a better chance at putting points on the board.

“Last year with EJ, we were more inside game, trying to get [the ball] to him,” Sax said.
“This year we’re more of a perimeter team. If our 3 point shooting is not going, we can drive it. We’re definitely more guard oriented, as opposed to having a big guy scoring”

The seniors on the team fused a bond through already built friendships, leading to a stronger team with a different dynamic than found in previous years.

“On this year’s team we’re all friends,” Petriceks said. “We all enjoy being with each other and the locker room vibe is especially relaxed. No one is tense, we’re laughing, and we’re having a good time.”

The boys’ basketball team finished this year’s season with a different game plan and motives than last year’s graduated lineup and E.J did. Unexpectedly, the team’s chemistry and sense of family led them further than expected in their season. Granting the team the Male Team of the Year Award is nothing short of the recognition that they deserve.

Scotty Peery and his team didn’t play only to win, but to work as a family and see what happens on the court.

“We aren’t playing for our coach, we aren’t playing for us,” Peery said. “We are just playing out there to have fun and I think that’s doing wonders for our team chemistry and our game.”