BOYS HOOPS: Palma hands Gilroy first league loss, 43-35

 

GILROY – Held to single digits in each of the first three
quarters, the Gilroy High boys basketball team was unable to find
its rhythm in a frustrating 43-35 loss to Palma in Tri-County
Athletic League action Wednesday night in Gilroy.
GILROY – Held to single digits in each of the first three quarters, the Gilroy High boys basketball team was unable to find its rhythm in a frustrating 43-35 loss to Palma in Tri-County Athletic League action Wednesday night in Gilroy.

The two teams came into the night deadlocked at 5-0 in league play but it was the Chieftains (15-3, 6-0) that left Bob Hagen Memorial Gym with a grasp on first place, taking over sole possession first place in the TCAL as the second half of league play begins.

Neither team shot well from the floor in a game that soon became a defensive struggle. Each team executed its press defense to the tee and limited offensive production throughout the game.

The Mustangs finished shooting just 34 percent but Palma’s 36 percent allowed Gilroy to hang around and hold out hope of a fourth-quarter comeback.

However, a 12-point Chieftain lead was too much for the Mustangs to overcome, getting no closer than six points in the final period.

“We are both defensive-minded teams,” Mustangs head coach Jeremy Dirks said. “Our offense comes out of our defense. We held them to 43 points. I told them before the game if we hold them to that many points I’d be happy, but we scored 35 points.

“It’s not one kids fault. They were getting pressed pretty hard and they made us make dumb plays, hats off to them.”

The Mustangs (14-4, 5-1) had been averaging 63 points per game in their five previous league contests. The 35 points on Wednesday was their lowest output of the season.

“Where we kind of lay our hat is on the defensive end,” Chieftains head coach Paul Alioto said. “We tried to limit (Greg) Hamik’s good opportunities and make sure we got back in transition. I think they are really explosive in transition and we wanted to make sure that they didn’t get anything cheap.”

Hamik, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, posting 15 points per outing this season, took just one shot in the opening quarter as the Chieftains used an 8-1 run over the final 1:30 to take a 17-7 lead into the second quarter.

Both defenses took over in the second quarter, as the two squads combined for a mere 15 points, which turned out to be the second-lowest scoring quarter to the 13 the teams managed in the third.

“Everyone was missing (shots),” senior Michael Aldridge said, sporting a half-inch cut on his chin which he suffered in the game’s opening sequence. “When our shots don’t fall, obviously we won’t win. They (rebounded) like crazy. They got so many offensive rebounds. We thought we could out-board them.”

The Chieftains gathered 10 second-chance points in the first half, eliminating one of the Mustangs’ strongest assets as a team – their rebounding ability.

“That killed us,” Dirks said. “I think they had eight offensive rebounds in that first half. It was tough.”

The Chieftains Matt Johnson pushed a 12-point advantage to 15 with a deep 3-pointer to open up the fourth quarter, making the already difficult task of a comeback that much harder for the Mustangs.

After buckets by Aldridge and Dolapo Opere cut the deficit to 11 with six minutes remaining, two quick field goals by Noah Allen pushed the lead back up to 15 points with time becoming a major factor.

Unfortunately the points came few and far between down the stretch, and although the Mustangs outscored the Chieftains 15-11 in the final quarter, the baskets were infrequent and too much time separated each one.

Mike Cahalan, one of only two players to reach double digits in the game, had 11 points to lead all scorers. Michael Hartman posted seven points, Hamik, struggled to a season-low five points and Michael Aldridge led the way for the Mustangs with nine points.

— The GHS JV basketball team went to 6-0 in league play with a 54-33 victory over Palma on Wednesday. The Mustangs were led by Robby Filice’s 20 points and 10 rebounds. Dietrich Baumgartner had nine points and nine rebounds and Nick Chang had nine assists. The JV Mustangs are 17-1 overall.

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