BOYS HOOPS: GHS snaps losing streak with 67-60 win over Alvarez

Gilroy's Nick Chang jumps up for a shot as Alvarez's Michael

Needing a pick-me-up after losing its previous three outings,
the Gilroy High boys basketball team withstood a late surge by
visiting Everett Alvarez to secure a 67-60 victory in Tri-County
Athletic League action Wednesday night in Gilroy.
Needing a pick-me-up after losing its previous three outings, the Gilroy High boys basketball team withstood a late surge by visiting Everett Alvarez to secure a 67-60 victory in Tri-County Athletic League action Wednesday night in Gilroy.

“Huge win,” said senior forward Dylan Jensen of the team’s league opener. “It was a big game for us. We knew we had to win it. It’s league and our number one priority all along is to win league this year.”

A disappointing three-game stretch at last week’s Bulldog Chase Tournament had the Mustangs eager find the formula – defense into offense and a controlled yet up-tempo pace – that had brought them success earlier in the season.

With the idea set forth to get the wheels back on the right track, a slow start initially hampered the Mustangs’ plans. And Alvarez, behind sophomores Deandre Sheppard and Michael Turner, grabbed a 15-13 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

“We wanted to come out strong and unfortunately it took us a quarter to get our heads into it,” senior guard Chris Catanzaro said. “But we pulled through as a team to get the job done.”

After the inconsistent opening quarter and first three minutes of the second, in which the Mustangs had to fight out of a seven-point hole, GHS found the intensity it had been searching for and began to chip away at the deficit.

A pair of charges drawn under the hoop by Robby Filice earned the Mustangs a pair of extra possessions on the offensive end. And those chances paid off as Filice and Chima Ikeme cashed in to bring the Mustangs to within three points at 22-19.

“Robby stepped up big,” GHS head coach Matt Tait said. “That was huge. We need that from guys off the bench.”

Two Eagles’ turnovers and easy lay-ups at the other end by Cameron Yawary and Catanzaro left the Mustangs with a 23-22 lead. GHs did not trail again in the game. However, the cushion sat at just two points, 30-28, into the locker room.

“I thought they came out flat and we really challenged them at the half and they came out and brought the effort up in the second half,” Tait said.

The contest remained a two-point affair three minutes into the third, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Nick Chang and Catanzaro sparked a 15-2 run, spanning the remainder of the third for a 53-38 lead into the final period.

“Going into halftime I think we knew that we weren’t playing as well as we usually do. The big thing was that we got shots to fall (in the third quarter),” said Jensen, who spearheaded the game-changing run with seven of his 15 points. “Our intensity got way higher as a team and that helped a lot on defense.”

The lead ballooned to 20 with five minutes to play before foul trouble slowed the pace of play and allowed Alvarez to creep back into the picture. The Eagles outscored the Mustangs 18-7 in the final 4:30 but could get no closer than five points as time became a factor.

“We did some really good things and we did some not so good things,” Tait said. “When you’re up by 20 the worst thing for you to do is foul. It stops the clock and they get free looks at the basket. But any win is a good win, especially in league.”

Yawary posted a team-high 22 points while Ikeme and Chang posted nine and eight points, respectively.

The Mustangs (8-5 overall, 1-0 TCAL) travel to Hollister to take on rival San Benito on Friday night.

“That’s going to be a wake up call one way or the other,” Tait said.

Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Junior Varsity note:

Luke Otteson’s 10, Greg Spellman’s 10 and Troy Charvet’s eight points helped the GHS junior varsity squad upend Everett Alvarez 45-29 on Wednesday night.

The Mustangs are now 10-3 overall and 1-0 in TCAL play. They too will face San Benito on Friday.

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