Eagles propelled by stout defense, defeat Mission San Jose 57 – 38

Shawn Rocha

Staff Writer

    On January 6, 2016, American’s Varsity Boys Basketball team gained the first league victory of the season, beating the Mission San Jose Warriors 57 – 38. Although strong throughout defensively, American lacked an explosive offensive showing, allowing Mission to mount a small comeback in the third quarter before finished off the exhibition with a barrage of late threes in the fourth quarter.

    Mission San Jose began the game well, converting a three-point shot with their first possession. From there on out, American made it difficult for Mission to get anything going offensively, dominating the glass and allowed nothing inside. While the Eagles displayed exquisite ball movement, they could not hit their open shots and were unable to capitalize on second-chance opportunities early. After being in a stalemate, Kyle Vickery (11) caught fire as he hit transition jump shots. This seemed to motivate the whole team as they started to pull away, as the Eagles leaked out in transition and converting easy layups. The Eagles possessed a 14 – 7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

    “We were more aggressive the first half,” Vickery said. “They didn’t really want it that bad and we were able to get good inside position on the offensive and defensive rebounds.”

    Starting the second quarter, the Eagles defense of effort did not sputter one bit as Mission San Jose’s first offensive possession resulted in a backcourt violation. Again, just like the first quarter, both teams could find no answers in regards to getting in scoring position. Mission San Jose scored the first points of the quarter at the free-throw line. After seeing no offensive improvement, American’s sideline decided to slow things down and call a timeout at the five-minute mark. The Eagles seemed receptive of the coach’s message, as the team hit a contested three on their next possession. Lack of ball movement seemed to plague the Eagles for the rest of the half until David Lee (12) converted on a contact layup as well as banking in a free throw. Despite a lackluster performance in the second quarter, American headed into the locker room with a commanding lead of 23 – 11.

    The second half commenced in the Eagles’ favor as DJ Fort (10) made his way to the basket and connected on an acrobatic and one layup. That would be the only bright spot for American as they got into early foul trouble, allowing Mission to earn their points from the free-throw line. Mission San Jose embarked on an 8 – 0 run with five minutes remaining in the third. American did not back down as they answered with their own run. Threes by Deryk Sangal (11) and Carlos Ceja (11) rescued the Eagles from disaster as they were able to maintain their big lead heading into the fourth.

    “We started out really shaky, and we thought we had the game in the bag,” Vickery said. “Then our coach called a timeout; we all came together and said let’s go run score backup so we came out and started to play aggressive again.”

    Entering the fourth quarter, all American had to do was contain Mission San Jose as they held a 45 – 22 lead heading into the fourth. Undeterred by the Warriors’ small runs late in the fourth, the Eagles stayed focused on defense and closed out the match with a final score of 57 – 38, giving the team  a 1 – 1 league record.

    “We didn’t want them to get any moment early in the fourth and we did a good job making sure that they didn’t,” Ceja said. “Overall, it was a good first win in the season.”

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