Boys’ basketball: Inconsistency overshadows road victory

February 10, 2010 — by David Eng and Jenny Zhang

With just under 30 seconds remaining in a crucial league matchup, raucous chants of “T-I-N-O! T-I-N-O!” echoed about the Cupertino High gymnasium on Jan. 29. But moments later, the only noise was the sound of Pioneer fans filing out the door in disappointment, as the visiting Falcons boys’ basketball team managed a last-second victory against host Cupertino.

The Falcons managed to eke out an impressive 49-47 win, at the time pulling their league record to 3-4. More importantly, that win signified the team’s first road victory of the season. They had been 0-5 away from home prior to the win.

Heading into the El Camino Division contest, the players were reminded of the importance of improving play on the road and playing harder for all four quarters.

Up by seven points at halftime, Saratoga saw its lead dwindle to one after Cupertino knocked down a barrage of three-pointers early in the fourth quarter. With just under 30 seconds left in regulation, junior point guard Alex Chan seemed to be smacked in the head by a defender, but because the referee did not call any foul, Cupertino gained possession of the ball and scored a layup on the other end to give the Pioneers a 47-46 advantage.

In the ensuing seconds, coach Trevor Naas nearly had to sprint to center court to draw the referees’ attentions, as they could not hear his timeout plea over the booming eruption of cheering from Pioneer fans. At that point, the game looked hardly salvageable, but Saratoga still had one more chance to score.

Out of the timeout huddle, the Falcons fed the ball to senior shooting guard Daniel Chou, who had been the Saratoga’s hot hand for the entire night . Cupertino was prepared with defenders, though, and white-colored jerseys swarmed around the shooter immediately as he received the ball. At the top of the three-point line with nowhere to go, Chou made a motion, not knowing himself whether it was an attempt to score or to make a pass to senior forward Andy Johnson.

He was fouled. Chou sunk all three clutch free throws with just over two seconds remaining, handing Cupertino the two-point loss. Chou finished with 19 points and five three-pointers, ending his team’s road woes for the time being.

“Road games had been really tough for us all season,” said senior center Vincent Carstens. “We’ve also had trouble just having consistency in our games, both on the road or at home. We go from winning by 20 to losing by 20,” said Carstens.

The trend continued even after the inspirational victory against Cupertino, as Saratoga lost to Mountain View in their ensuing away game on Feb. 5 45-36.

Chou agreed with Carstens’ analysis that the team lacks consistency.

“This season, we’ve been kind of up and down. We get a couple of wins and then lose against the worst team in the league and then bounce back and beat a team like Lynbrook, who was, at the time, undefeated,” he said.

Inconsistency has just been one area attributing to the Falcon’s disappointing season, according to Carstens. He said the team has also had difficulties closing out games in crucial fourth quarter scenarios. Although Chou saved the game against Cupertino, the Falcons had not been so lucky prior.

“For us this season it’s just been hard to finish up games,” said Chou. “A couple of games, like against Milpitas, we went into the 4th quarter with a lead and we still lost.”

A similar breakdown occurred in Saratoga’s away game versus Santa Clara on Jan. 27, when they were outscored 18-6 in the final quarter.

On the bright side, however, the Falcons seem to be getting their confidence back.

“We’re a pretty talented team and we can compete with the competition. We just need to work harder and together,” said freshman forward Stevie Berman.

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