The Gavilan College Rams men’s basketball team shut down visiting West Valley’s post game for the early part of the first half. But the Vikings went on a 17-3 run to close it out and went into halftime with a comfortable 38-24 lead.
The Rams made runs in the second half, but by then the deficit was too much to overcome and they lost going away 80-63. The Rams (9-11, 1-4 conference) got within 10 a couple of times in the second half, but each time West Valley buried a big basket to increase their comfortable lead.
“They always seemed to have an answer, which is what good teams do,” said Gavilan coach Chris Shoemaker. “They shot well from the perimeter. It’s very tough because of the way they run their offense. If you help (defensively), they kick it out.”
West Valley (15-3, 3-1 conference) had eight 3-pointers in the game. Although that was among the most allowed by Gavilan this season, West Valley coach Dan Yoshikawa said his team shot far fewer shots from outside than it has been averaging this season.
“We shoot a lot of 3s. It is probably the best shooting team I have ever had,” Yoshikawa said. “It sets a rhythm to everything we do. I guess you got to credit their defense too.”
Adrian Zamora helped Gavilan stay within shouting distance in the second half, scoring 16 of his game-high 24 points. San Benito High grad Broc Sondgroth scored all nine of his points in the second half, including a pair of treys.
“Their guards were getting penetration,” Sondgroth said. “We couldn’t keep them out of the middle. That’s where we started to break down. We didn’t help enough off our man.”
Gavilan controlled the opening eight minutes.
“I was really happy with our energy level to start the game,” Shoemaker said. “They had a couple more guys they were able to bring in, and they were able to wear us down physically. We knew they were a very good team coming in.”
The Rams largest lead in the game was six points, but it didn’t last long. West Valley had three 3s in the first eight minutes, but the Ram defense kept them out of the paint. Zamora had several blocked shots early on and a couple of dunks. He did a good job preventing West Valley big man Ken Alexander from receiving the entry pass.
“We knew they like to lob the ball into him,” Zamora said. “The coach emphasized circling the post. I also had a lot of outside help.”
The Rams moved the ball well early with several players cutting to the basket. Andre Hayes found Jon Morrison with a nice pass down low. Morrison pumped and waited for a defender to jump over him before scoring, forcing West Valley to call a timeout down 8-6 four minutes into the game.
On another play early in the first half, Zamora got position on his defender, turned and threw down a two-handed dunk, one of two in the game. Hayes had a one-handed dunk on a pass from Morrison.
Midway through the first half, West Valley’s pressure started to force bad passes. And the Vikings carried it from there.
“I think Gavilan is a very good team,” Yoshikawa said. “I don’t think they played very good tonight. Chris does probably the best job in the league of coaching his players. He is by far the best coach in the league. He just doesn’t have the players. It will be a lot closer next time we play them.”
On Wednesday, Gavilan plays visiting De Anza College.