BOYS BASKETBALL: Mustangs finish second at Bulldog Chase

Go mustangs!

MORGAN HILL – Midway through the second quarter of the Bulldog
Chase Tournament finals last Wednesday between the Gilroy High boys
varsity basketball team and the Santa Teresa Saints, things got a
little heated with the Mustangs down 25-24.
MORGAN HILL – Midway through the second quarter of the Bulldog Chase Tournament finals last Wednesday between the Gilroy High boys varsity basketball team and the Santa Teresa Saints, things got a little heated with the Mustangs down 25-24.

One of the Saints’ players, a little upset with the aggressive, physical play of Gilroy’s rebounders, proceeded to get into the face of Mustang Dolapo Opere. The two players exchanged words, Opere, calm and collected in his delivery, walked away as his challenger continued his verbal tirade at midcourt.

“The whole game he kept talking,” Opere said. “It’s hard to keep your composure in situations like that. You are so into the game and you have someone trying to instigate problems. But our coach calms us down and tells us not to react. That helps a lot.”

The trash-talking, which has its place in sports but not when it crosses certain boundaries, continued throughout but the retaliation from GHS players never came.

“We just kept our mouths quiet and tried to play our game,” said senior center Michael Hartman, who was named to the all-tournament team.

It wasn’t going to be a bad technical foul that lost the contest for the Mustangs. They were going to win or lose it by playing hard and executing.

Even in a 59-52 loss, they were able to maintain their emotions, especially during the most frustrating points of the contest, mirroring the behavior of their head coach Jeremy Dirks – shrugging it off and playing the game.

“It was a tough loss, they are a good team,” Dirks said following the game.

“My kids are good kids and they know better,” he added about his team staying cool under tough circumstances. “To tell you the truth they know it’s going to help us in the long run. They gave us about six points. We talk about it in our program and it’s not really a problem with us.”

The Mustangs led the tournament’s defending champion by one point at the half, as Hartman and fellow seniors Opere and Greg Hamik, carried the offensive load. Hartman posted seven of his 15 points in the opening half as Opere netted eight points and Hamik shot 3-of-3 from 3-point range toward his 11-point first half.

However, the offense cooled in the second half and a six-point third quarter put the Mustangs down two heading into the deciding fourth.

“We need to find another scorer to step up,” Dirks said. “We would like one more person to be able to create their own shot. We don’t have that right now.”

The Mustangs didn’t fair much better in the fourth quarter, scoring just 11 points.

Hartman added 15 rebounds to his 15 points for a second straight double-double. Opere also had a good night on the glass, collecting nine rebounds. Hamik finish with a team-high 16 points.

Although he followed up his 19-point effort the night before against Sobrato, with just three points, senior Andrel Gaines’ strong play earned him a spot on the all-tournament team.

At 9-3 heading into Tri County Athletic League play Wednesday at home against Alisal, the Mustangs wrap up the preseason with three tournament finals appearances. Although the championship eluded the Mustangs in all three tries, their performances throughout have them geared for a quick start in league.

“We’ll get back at it,” Dirks said.

Wednesday’s game is set for 7 p.m.

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