The 2011-12 season didn’t go according to original plan for the Gilroy High boys varsity basketball team. But as the Mustangs have done throughout, they put forth maximum effort against visiting Salinas in the Tri-County Athletic League finale for both teams on Senior Night Friday in Gilroy.
The Mustangs (8-15 overall, 3-9 TCAL) countered the Cowboys (19-5 overall, 9-3 TCAL) well through the first half but lost sight of their opponent down the stretch of a 65-56 defeat.
In front of an appreciative audience, nine seniors – Stefan Mercer, Jonathan Lester, Christian Goldstein, Lucas Gravell, Greg Spellman, Charles Walker Niko Fortino, Alex Siao and Archie Macabeo – bid adieu to the GHS court.
“It was a really good group of kids,” GHS head coach Matt Tait. “Like I just told them, it was a tough season but at no point did they quit. There was never any quit, especially those seniors. They were grinders all year long. There wasn’t a game where they didn’t compete.”
That sentiment rang true Friday. The Mustangs answered the Cowboys shot for shot in the first half. Down by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, GHS rallied behind seven points from Walker, including a 3-pointer that followed a corner trey from Gravell – his lone bucket of the night – one possession before, and trailed just 33-29 at the half.
Mercer cut the deficit to two points out of the break and it was 35-34 Cowboys after Goldstein drained a 3-pointer. Mercer closed the gap again with 50 seconds to play in the third with a 3 to keep GHS within seven, 46-39, entering the fourth.
Gilroy, though, never got closer than eight points in the final eight minutes as Salinas outscored the Mustangs 19-15.
“They really came out and competed and made a game out of it,” Tait said. “I was proud of them.”
Goldstein finished with a team-high 13 points, Walker had 11 points, Mercer six, Fortino five Tommy Cox and David Gonzalez had four apiece, Siao three and Spellman two.