GHS and Palma vie for first place in league

Go mustangs!

GILROY – It is easy to get excited and to look ahead at what
could happen down the road, and with the start to the season the
Gilroy High boys basketball team has enjoyed, who can blame the
Mustangs for being confident.
GILROY – It is easy to get excited and to look ahead at what could happen down the road, and with the start to the season the Gilroy High boys basketball team has enjoyed, who can blame the Mustangs for being confident.

Their success thus far landed them a guest spot on “Fastbreak”, a local high school sports show last Friday, but head coach Jeremy Dirks said that the exposure hasn’t gone to his players’ heads.

“It is right where you want to be,” Dirks said of his team’s start to the season. “The normal inclination as a young kid is to come out, have fun and be Hollywood for a little bit, but not at practice, this is work. There is no time to have a big head.”

With their 14-3 overall record – all three losses coming in the finals of preseason tournaments – and a shiny 5-0 mark in the Tri County Athletic League, the Mustangs have passed all the tests thus far. Wednesday, though, it’s time to get back to work, and they better bring their ‘A’ game.

The Mustangs welcome equally hot Palma to Bob Hagen Gymnasium for a midseason showdown for first place in the TCAL.

“We are just going to keep working hard if we want to beat them,” said senior Greg Hamik, who leads the Mustangs, averaging 15.6 points per game. “It is kind of easy to get too confident, but coach works us hard in practice.”

The Chieftains boast an identical record and are the two-time defending league champs.

“For Palma, our key is for us to work hard on the defensive end,” Dirks said.

The Mustangs top-three steal leaders, Greg Hamik, Andrel Gaines and Dolapo Opere, have combined for 162 steals in 17 games.

“They are a lot like us, except they shoot it better,” Dirks said.

The two teams split the season series a year ago with the Mustangs taking the first contest, 48-42, and Palma getting some revenge in the second, 48-34 in Gilroy.

“I think they are all fundamentally sound and well coached,” senior center Michael Hartman said. “They really get out on the break and shoot the three really well.”

Hartman is averaging nearly a double-double in the Mustangs’ five league games, with nine points and 11 rebounds per outing.

As of Sunday, both squads are ranked in the top-15 in the Central Coast Section, with Palma sitting in the eight spot and the Mustangs ranked 13th, according to maxpreps.com.

“It’s a perfect storm. Everything is coming together,” Dirks said.

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