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6:15 – Girls varsity Lost game turns into a last-minute shootout

By Rana Aghababazadeh and Akshara Majjiga

As the buzzer went off, marking the end of the second quad game against Lynbrook HS, a bass dropped, drawing attention from the crowd of the junior varsity boys game. Like a handful of teams, the girls varsity team hit play on their warm up track, and ran onto the court as the boys stepped off. The crowd went through a rotation as some of the crowd left, and even more filed in to watch the last games of the night.

With two losses on the MVHS record for the night, the stakes were higher for the varsity teams. Senior varsity captain Joyce Chen notes the difference between playing with a crowd comprised of mostly parents versus a crowd with students from both rival schools.

“Normally we have a parent squad that cheers us on,” Chen said. “To have students there cheering us on – I think that definitely helped us boost our confidence.”

Photos by Rana Aghababazadeh and Akshara Majjiga

With a larger crowd, the team started off the game with effective play, spreading their players out with a zone defense. After several turnovers, three minutes into the game, neither team had scored yet. Eventually, when LHS’ offense picked up their speed, the Matadors fell out of position allowing LHS to drive to the basket and make the first shot of the game.

But immediately after, sophomore Ashley Liu gained possession, moving fast up the court to seal a three-pointer. The teams continued to rally back and forth and were tied 8-8 when LHS broke the trend and gained a ten-point lead. As MVHS picked up more rebounds, they were able to score more off of fastbreaks but LHS continued to score inside and outside of the paint.

With only six seconds left on the clock, MVHS let LHS offense slip through their defense as LHS clutched a layup, ending the quarter 8-12.

The second quarter went no better for the Matadors. Similar to the first quarter, neither team scored until just under the halfway point . Despite the quick defense from both schools, LHS eventually regained their offensive strength.

But watching the game off the court, one could see the ineffective passes and lucky shots of both teams. At the last ten seconds, LHS got off a completely open fastbreak, leaving the score at a presumed loss of 12-24.

However, near the end of the third half, the game took a quite different turn. Though they acquired a few rebounds, LHS failed to make as many shots as they did before. To their advantage, MVHS got off more steals from missed shots and got more shooting opportunities for themselves.

Junior Jessica Ji notes the heightened aggressiveness on the MVHS team, despite the large gap difference.

Especially in the second half of the third quarter, we really just kept on pushing even though we were down around fifteen points, we kept on pushing. - Junior Jessica Ji

Compared to previous quarters, the Matadors were able to score an equivalent to LHS, score 18-31. This set up the MVHS mindset for the final quarter.

It started with a missed three-pointer from LHS, then a three-pointer from Chen. Across the gym, the LHS coach could be heard increasing his voice instructing his players to play better defense. Subsequently, MVHS was fouled and made both free throws, catching up 23-37.

The Matadors continued to pressure, preventing LHS from getting shooting opportunities. For Chen, it was the spirit of the crowd and rivalry that helped the team step up their game.

“It was the momentum from the crowd, from us, from our bench, that all kind of helped us take it forward,” Chen said.

And the crowd was indeed getting louder as even more people filed into the gym. Both teams played more aggressively, moving faster across the court, and keeping guard on the ball throughout.

The score was 32-43 with only about three minutes left of the game and LHS trying to maintain their lead. But LHS attempted several jumpers but failed, giving MVHS the steal as Ji rebounded and made an easy layup. The team frequently boxed out and rebounded. Taking more shots, MVHS was fouled, and made a majority of their free throws.

LHS was fouled and made both free throws, score 39-45. But with only thirty seconds left, Ji attempted and scored a three-pointer, but the team was unable to close the gap, stabilizing the final score 42-45.

Although the team lost, MVHS players felt that the spirit of the quad game, having more people, more supporters and a larger audience helped the team. Chen notes the skill itself of playing a game, not the actual individual skills of the sport.

“The crowd is there to cheer you on,” Chen said. “They’re supporting you. It’s a skill to play the game.”

And for some players, it was the rivalry with LHS. Although senior guard Jessie Pao admitted that there was a difficulty of playing against LHS in previous seasons due to injuries, she was determined to win.

This is our rival school, so we have to beat them. [It’s a] home quad game, so that brought up the intensity a lot more. - Senior Jessie Pao

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