A battle with pneumonia sidelined Dillon Day from the Bob Hagen Memorial Invitational boys basketball tournament last week at Gilroy High, but there might have been nothing to keep the Christopher High star from taking the court Monday night.
“I thought it would be three minutes in, three minutes out, but my asthma held up, I was able to breathe, and I didn’t want to be taken out,” Day said.
The sophomore power forward responded with 20 points and 24 rebounds to help the Cougars rally for a 59-49 home win over Gilroy.
“I can’t say enough good things about Dillon,” Christopher coach Kaden Bahner said. “He’s a great kid, and he rose to the occasion. He hasn’t been able to play for the last three basketball games, (but) he came to me at school today, told me he was good to go.
“I said, ‘Let me know at 5:30 if you’re good to start,’ and he said he was good to start. I respect him and I’m proud of him. I’m sure at times, physically it wasn’t the easiest thing. He stepped up for us tonight.”
The scoreboard indicated the final score as 59-50, but a Gilroy 3-pointer was put on the board when, in fact, the Mustangs’ final basket in the closing seconds – a baseline jumper by Brendan Holler – was signaled as a two-point field goal by a referee.
Gilroy (3-6) led 16-6 after the first quarter, but Christopher (6-3) used a 32-15 run to build a 38-31 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Mustangs pulled within 43-39 after three quarters, but a Day put-back gave the Cougars a 49-44 lead midway through the fourth, and Christopher cruised to the win from there.
Day was serenaded with chants of “M-V-P” from Christopher’s student section when he went to the free-throw line with 3:22 remaining.
“It felt really good, (with) all the hype leading up to the game, all the adrenaline,” Day said. “It felt really good to come away with this one.”
Evan Shapiro had 16 points and six rebounds for Christopher, which got seven points from Andrew Foster and four points, five rebounds and four steals from Wyatt Rocheleau.
Christopher avenged a 62-47 loss at Gilroy last season.
“We’ve been preparing for this game for a year,” Bahner said. “Last year, we went into Gilroy feeling like we had prepared well for the game and they surprised us at their place. That was a tough one to swallow. You get over it, but you don’t forget, so it feels really nice to get this one in any way, shape or form.
“It wasn’t the prettiest victory; we certainly got outplayed in the first half, but we closed it well. The second half, I feel like we didn’t play a perfect half, but we executed enough. We went into our post play a little bit more, which seemed to produce scoring opportunities. I was proud of our kids.”
David Gonzalez led Gilroy with 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Travis Moulden and Zach Loo scored seven points each for the Mustangs, who got six points each from Tommy Cox and Lukas Otteson.