After building an early lead with 3-point shooting, the Los Altos High boys basketball team maintained its advantage by attacking the rim in last week’s 44-34 win at Mountain View.
The Eagles – who made a trio of treys in the first quarter and led by 10 at the end of it – didn’t make another shot from beyond the arc in the Feb. 12 rivalry game.
That might spell doom for Los Altos on most nights, but not this one. That’s because the Eagles got aggressive.
They kept the Spartans at a safe distance by scoring on drives, low-post plays and putbacks. Los Altos totaled 24 points in the paint, with all but two of those coming after the opening period.
It wasn’t as if the Eagles were missing from 3-point range; they made half of their six attempts in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game.
Guard Joey Malgesini (team-high 14 points) drained a pair of treys from the right baseline and another from the left wing in a first quarter that concluded with Los Altos up 16-6.
The change in strategy – the Eagles didn’t even take a 3 in the second quarter – was by design, according to coach Bob McFarlane. He noted that his first-place squad had been relying too much on 3s recently, including in a loss at Palo Alto the previous week.
“We put some new sets in to get the ball closer to the rim and give us some lanes to get in and attack,” McFarlane said. “We got some higher-percentage shots.”
Added Malgesini: “We’ve been emphasizing this whole past week just getting to the basket. We have the tools to get there – just getting there to kick (the ball out), not necessarily to score. That was our emphasis this game and this week, and that’s what we executed.”
Steven Garverick opened the second quarter by draining a midrange jumper and Daniel Rosenbaum’s second successful drive of the period gave Los Altos a 23-13 halftime lead.
Forwards Rosenbaum and Garverick finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Mountain View could do no better than match the Eagles’ scoring in the final two quarters The Spartans put up 12 points in the third – their most-productive period – highlighted by guard Kevin Ives’ spinning drive to the bucket and 3-pointers from Nikki Kapany and John McAlister.
Guard McAlister totaled a team-best 14 points; forward Kapany contributed 13.
Maglesini’s two free throws gave Los Altos its biggest lead of the night, 31-17, with 2:49 remaining in the third.
The Spartans answered with a 5-0 run by Kapany (3-pointer and putback) to cut their deficit to nine, but not for long. Forward Lambie Lanman made a follow-up shot for the Eagles and Rosenbaum converted a Mountain View turnover into another bucket, a baseline jumper that rolled into the cylinder.
McAlister’s 3 in the closing seconds of the third made it a 35-25 game with a quarter to go.
“They’re a team that can come back on you, so we certainly weren’t comfortable at any point against Mountain View,” McFarlane said. “They can make runs and can shoot the lights out, as they showed.”
Kapany buried a trey on the Spartans’ first possession of the fourth to narrow Los Altos’ lead to seven, but the Eagles wouldn’t allow them any closer. They scored the next seven points – six coming on close-range shots by Rosenbaum, Maglesini and Lanman – to take a commanding 42-28 advantage with three minutes left.
“We consider ourselves a pretty good shooting team,” said Lanman, who finished with six points. “When you’re a great shooting team, you want to try to get to the basket and challenge yourself.”
Los Altos’ next challenge is to lock up the De Anza Division title. The win boosted the Eagles’ record to 8-1 in league (16-6 overall), giving them a two-game lead over Milpitas and Palo Alto with three to play.
Los Altos hosted Homestead Friday (after the Town Crier’s deadline) and is scheduled to visit Los Gatos 7 p.m. today before capping league play 7:45 p.m. Friday at home against Milpitas.
Mountain View (3-7 league, 7-15 overall) is slated to wrap up its season 7 p.m. today versus visiting Saratoga.
2013 boys basketball: Los Altos High School vs. Mountain View High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier