Behind Goldstein’s 23 points, Mustangs shoot past Cougars

Christopher's Marcus Harrell tries to steal the ball from

Christian Goldstein searched for a concrete answer, a reason,
something. Goldstein didn’t need to say much. His game-high 23
points on 7-of-14 shooting said plenty as he and the Gilroy High
boys basketball team toppled crosstown rival Christopher High 62-47
in front of a lively and energetic crowd on Wednesday night.
Christian Goldstein searched for a concrete answer, a reason, something.

“I don’t know what it was. I mean, I did my normal routine like I always do. I have a couple songs I listen to, all that. I don’t know, I just felt on tonight,” the senior guard said.

Goldstein didn’t need to say much. His game-high 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting said plenty as he and the Gilroy High boys basketball team toppled crosstown rival Christopher High 62-47 in front of a lively and energetic crowd on Wednesday night.

“It’s just that rivalry that brings out the spark in you,” Goldstein said.

That spark fully ignited in the third quarter when Goldstein struck for nine of his 23 – a total that included four 3-pointers – and the Mustangs expanded a 26-20 halftime advantage into a 45-30 lead entering the fourth quarter.

“For us, we just really had to keep doing what we were doing,” GHS head coach Matt Tait said. “We held them to 20 in the first half just playing zone. I think they struggled all night getting open looks with that zone. And we hit some shots in the second half.”

Aside from the obvious incentive of beating the other, both teams, each holding sub-.500 records entering the contest, also needed a victory boost. Contrasting styles made for a physical contest – and a fair share of fouls. In the second half alone, the Mustangs and Cougars were whistled for more than 20 infractions combined. The fouls were not intentional, but more as a result of aggressive ball pursuit. The frequent stoppages, though, translated into a herky-jerky flow, which worked in Gilroy’s favor.

“The game is tempo, right? I told the kids during shoot around it’s about tempo. (The Cougars) want to run it and we want to slow it down. Our guys did what we asked them and we ended up winning because we won that tempo game,” Tait said. “The kids competed all game. I like the way we are playing right now.”

Able to slice into the 15-point deficit to 45-35 at the onset of the fourth, Cougars starting point guard Marcus Harrell, often the team’s catalyst, picked up his fifth foul with six minutes to play in the game.

“Not having Marcus on the floor certainly changes the dynamic,” CHS head coach Kaden Bahner said. “That situation presented itself and was a pretty big swing in the game. Nonetheless, for accountability purposes, we have 14 guys on our basketball team and we have to find a way in the moment of adversity.”

CHS got no closer, as Charles Walker and Jonathan Lester each scored six points for the Mustangs in a foul-laden final period.

“There were other points in the game where we needed leadership on the floor,” Bahner said. “We saw an aggressive tendency late in the game, but it was too little too late.”

The Cougars have had success this season pushing the action, though their fast-break offense looked off-kilter and out of sync for much of the evening. Dillon Babb, who finished with 12 points, gave the Cougars (4-8) a reliable option inside, but his production was spotty as the Mustangs defense effectively crashed the boards.

“There’s always going to be fouls that are called and things like that,” Bahner said. “Do I believe it was the difference in the basketball game? No. We knew what was coming. We prepared for it but just struggled.”

Christopher’s leading scorer through its first 11 games, Wyatt Rocheleau, was held to six points as was DJ Campos and Nick Cordova – two players who have each posted double-digit scoring efforts this season. Andrew Foster contributed 11 points, eight of those in the first quarter, including four in a row, to give the Cougars an 8-5 lead.

“I attribute a lot to their defensive pressure,” Bahner said. “They ran a 1-3-1 zone for a majority of the game and I think that we struggled to do a lot against it. We had a good plan in the arsenal but we had a hard time executing it.”

The Mustangs closed the opening eight minutes on a 9-4 run for a narrow. The teams were tied 19-19 with 3:29 before the break. But buckets from Goldstein, Walker and Lester pushed Gilroy (4-5) to its 26-20 halftime cushion.

“We finished it out and worked as a team,” Walker said. “With more competition, we play more as a team. We are figuring out those kinks in our game.”

Walker tallied 11 points, Lester had10 points, Greg Spellman seven and Tommy Cox six for the Mustangs, who play Wednesday in the first round of the Sobrato Bulldog Chase Tournament. The Cougars have the next two weeks off to prepare for their Monterey Bay League opener versus defending champion Watsonville on Jan. 6.

“We have to move on,” Bahner said. “I believe we have a team that can compete in the MBL this year. We have to take some time to evaluate this one and go on. It wasn’t the last game of our season. We are going to go back to work.”

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