While most students were busy doing homework or eating a late dinner, the MVHS varsity boys basketball team went to work on Tuesday night, Feb. 7th, against a Homestead HS team who had crushed them 53-69 earlier in the season.
Despite aggressive defense and a three-point lead with three minutes left in the game, consistent layups from the HHS side and a couple of missed shots by the Matadors left them down by 3 at the game’s end, in one of the closest games of their season.
The first quarter ended with MVHS up 15-14, after continuous back and forth scoring and defensive stops. But as the second quarter opened, HHS made five consecutive points off MVHS’ offensive rebounds.
With just over five minutes left, MVHS made their first points of the quarter, with senior Aditya Mohan’s layup bringing the score to 17-19. Multiple missed layups by HHS gave MVHS a chance to regain the lead and tie up the score. Senior Ron Talmor got the rebound off his own missed layup and scored on the put back, tying up the game. A flurry of HHS layups and three-pointers from sophomore Akshay Gopalkrishnan gave MVHS a 25-23 lead. Despite Talmor’s two-pointer with 46.9 seconds to go, HHS responded with two more layups putting the score 27-27 at the half. The Matadors’ faces looked excited as they left the court, with the score still leaving the possibility of the first league win at home this season.
HHS opened the third quarter with a layup and a player was fouled, but Mohan was also fouled after a layup and left the score tied at 30-30. Gopalkrishnan drove to the basket, making a layup off of a pass from junior Zachary Whong, but HHS answered back with a three-pointer. After a couple of layups from both teams, Whong missed a three-pointer and an HHS player was fouled. He made both shots, and brought the score to 34-37. A missed three-pointer from Gopalkrishnan and a layup gave HHS a five point lead, but junior Ryan Lee was fouled and made both free throws. Gopalkrishnan then made a layup off the fastbreak, cutting the lead down to one point. HHS responded with one last jump shot, and the quarter ended 38-41.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Talmor opened up with a layup. After a jump shot from HHS, MVHS responded with a three-pointer. Despite multiple steals and fouls, MVHS continued to miss shots until Gopalkrishnan drained a three-pointer, bringing the score to 46-43 and giving MVHS the lead. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, HHS made a two-pointer, but the scoreboard was accidently unplugged and play stopped for ten seconds. Lee responded to an HHS jump shot with an assist to Gopalkrishnan, whose layup on the fastbreak brought the score to 48-47. Lee was then fouled and made both from the line. With 3:30 left in the game, MVHS was up by three points.
But HHS had not given up yet. After several timeouts and missed MVHS free throws, they sunk three consecutive layups, and won 50-53.
“It was disappointing, especially that we were up by one point with a minute thirty,” Gopalkrishnan said. “But at the same time I thought this was probably the best game we’ve had all season.”
After two close games, Gopalkrishnan thinks the team has been playing much better, and will hopefully carry that through to the Lynbrook HS game on Friday.
The boys basketball team will play their next home game on Feb. 14 against Saratoga HS.