After gaining the consolation championship at the Westmont Tournament, the Matadors entered the Lynbrook Invitational from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 with a 2-1 record. Despite a strong defensive performance in a 39-35 win over Sobrato High School in the first round, the defense collapsed in the second quarter in their losses to Lynbrook High School and Mills High School.
“[We learned] where our weak points are, where teams really get us,” head coach Clay Stiver said. “I think we’re still finding our identity, but we know the potential is there … I just hope that we can put it all together when the time comes.”
Now 3-3, the team has three more non-league matches and the Monta Vista Invitational tournament before the league season starts Jan. 4 versus Fremont High School.
Day 1 (Dec. 8): MVHS 39, Sobrato 35
The offense brought the Matadors a huge first quarter, but the defense helped the team hang on to a 39-35 win versus the Sobrato Bulldogs. Small forward senior George Geha scored 12 points while power forward senior Adhi Watave added seven points and three steals in the first match.
The defense came up with four blocks and five steals, but in the fourth quarter, they forced eight turnovers on Sobrato to hold the Bulldogs to only four points for the victory.
MVHS held to a 10-9 lead in the first quarter, but from 3:35 onward, the Matadors went on a 10-0 run, fueled by a steal from shooting guard senior Thomas Jennings and center senior Mihir Chavan, to lead 20-12 at the end. The Matadors were a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line.
A turnover on the very first possession of the third quarter for MVHS led to a four minute scoreless stretch in which the Matadors missed six consecutive shots while committing three other turnovers. This allowed Sobrato to take its first lead, 29-28 since 7:20 in the first quarter, capping a 7-0 third quarter start.
Watave was finally able to answer back with a layup after an assist by senior Andrew Hsu. However, that ended up being the only basket as MVHS shot 1-10 from the field in the quarter for Sobrato to take over 30-31.
Just as the offense looked helpless, Geha nailed a key three-point shot two minutes into the fourth quarter to help MVHS regain a two point lead. In the last three minutes, the defense remained strong by holding Sobrato scoreless.
At 1:20, Geha scored to give the Matadors a manageable 39-35 lead. Less than 30 seconds left, the Matadors missed the one-and-one free throws that would have sealed the game, but junior Ramana Keerthi came up with two huge offensive rebounds from those free throws for MVHS’ 39-35 win.
Day 2 (Dec. 9): MVHS 40, Lynbrook 56
Scores of Lynbrook and MVHS students filed in to watch the semifinal round of the tournament. A closely contested game to start, Lynbrook quickly blew open the game in a 25-4 second quarter as the Vikings’ offense hit six three-point shots as well as drawing a shooting foul from behind the arc. (View transcript from the live coverage here.) MVHS could not find an answer to the sudden shooting spree, and the lead proved insurmountable in the 40-56 loss.“They didn’t do anything special, nothing we can’t handle,” Stiver said. “They shot the ball real well last game, which I think they won’t do again, but we just need to get up and play … We just didn’t do that last game.”
Lynbrook started the game firing three-point shots unsuccessfully. Lynbrook junior Brandon Yamaguchi made one of his four shots to bring Lynbrook up by three. MVHS had a rough start with two turnovers, but the Matadors quickly built a quick 7-6 lead from Watave’s five points.
MVHS and Lynbrook traded baskets, but Lynbrook junior Kevin Liou drained a three to make the lead 11-9. From there, Lynbrook made six of their next seven shots, all worth three points. During this stretch, Lynbrook made seven free throws, including three from a foul on a three-point attempt, and eight points off of five costly turnovers for the Matadors. By halftime, MVHS was down 11-31.
MVHS picked up their offense in the third quarter, but they could not stop Lynbrook in the defensive end, leading to a 25-41 score by the end of the third quarter. MVHS established their interior game as Watave scored 14 points — most in the paint — but they were burned in the perimeter as they lost the second quarter and the game.
Day 3 (Dec. 10): MVHS 32, Mills 47
MVHS let the second quarter get away again as they lost 32-47 to Mills High School in the third-place game. Overall, the team shot 13-48, 27.1% from the field — unable to capitalize on their ten offensive rebounds. Senior George Geha had eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks while senior Mihir Chavan added three points and nine rebounds.
“We get this thing where we get complacent,” Stiver said. “I think we think that we’re going to win the game, so we relax a bit and then as soon as it happens they just blow it up and then offensively we just don’t execute.”
Mills jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead in the first quarter as Stiver burned two full timeouts just three minutes into the game due to miscommunication on offense. However, the Matadors were able to reassert their size with strong rebounding underneath to keep the game close. Mills led 9-5 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, the Matadors missed five consecutive shots after Geha’s score to cut the deficit to 8-12. Just like Lynbrook, Mills took advantage as they made three more three-point shots in a 11-0 run to go up 23-8. Keerthi answered back with a three point play, but the Matadors found themselves down 11-25 at halftime.
The Matadors’ shooting stayed cold as they missed six consecutive shots before Watave scored on his offensive rebound. MVHS had eight offensive rebounds and three steals in the quarter, but the frustration showed as midway through the third quarter Geha’s three from the top of the key rattled in and out. MVHS guards Jennings and Hsu applied heavy pressure in the back court but Mills stayed unfazed, scoring consistently with their speed to maintain a 23-37 lead into the fourth.
Keerthi started the fourth quarter with a layup and a steal, but again, the Matadors missed five consecutive shots. Meanwhile, Mills was able to penetrate the perimeter, leading to close-range shots and free throws. Keerthi contributed two more baskets and Jennings shot a three with less than two minutes to go, but the poor shooting prevented the Matadors from coming back as they lost 32-47.
The Matadors will play their first home game Dec. 13 versus Branham High School.