Eagles get defensive down the stretch

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Jake Shab drives for a layup, pursued by Mountain View’s Ryan Kim in last week’s De Anza Division opener.

Mountain View High’s gym was rocking in anticipation of last week’s boys basketball game between the Spartans and rival Los Altos High – and the action lived up to the hype.

The Eagles rallied for a 44-33 victory by outscoring Mountain View 12-0 in the fourth quarter of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division opener, played Jan. 3.“It all started with our defense,” Los Altos head coach Trevor Naas said. “First half, we were a little disappointed with our defensive effort. Second half, I thought our defensive energy and effort was really, really good.”

The Eagles are no strangers to lockdown defense – they’ve already held four opponents under 35 points this season, including a season-low 17 points allowed in a win over Aptos last month. Los Altos was even more dominant defensively in the second half against Mountain View, holding the Spartans to six points after halftime.

Mountain View seemed to be in control early. The Spartans took a six-point lead late in the first quarter and didn’t relinquish it through halftime, aided by nine points from senior Manul Mosley. Effective shooting contributed to the Spartans’ first-half success: Mountain View shot 68 percent from the field and Los Altos 44 percent.

The game’s momentum remained in the Spartans’ favor early in the second half, as the Eagles missed five shots in a row on their opening possession.

However, late in the third quarter, Los Altos began to speed up the pace of the game, pushing the ball faster and with more intensity than the Eagles had in the first half. The Spartans, who had dictated the pace of the game for much of the first half, struggled to keep up with the Eagles’ speedy offense.

“I think we should definitely push it,” said Los Altos senior point guard Nolan Brennan, who hit a key shot on a fast break in the third to give the Eagles a brief lead. “Teams can’t run with us. We’re super in shape, and when we push it, we always get good shots.”

Jake Shab ignited Los Altos’ fourth-quarter run, making a putback approximately two minutes in. He scored four of his 12 points in the period, matching teammate Matt Eberle for team-high honors.

Mountain View, meanwhile, went 0-5 from the field in the fourth. Two of those shots were blocked, the second by senior center Simon Heck in the final minute.

“Los Altos did a great job making a couple adjustments on us,” Mountain View head coach Kevin Mack said. “They changed their mentality, and they sped us up.”

Mosley finished with 11 points to pace the Spartans, and 7-foot junior Will Dominguez added six.

Mountain View will have a chance to avenge the loss when the teams meet Feb. 16 at Los Altos to cap the regular season.

“We gotta get back to what we do best, which is methodical, getting the ball inside to our big guys,” Mack said. “If we can get back to attacking the rim, we’ll be fine.”

While Naas was pleased with the win, he wasn’t looking too far ahead.

“Right now, it’s just about getting better each day,” he said. “This was an exciting one for our team, this rivalry game.”

Los Altos won its next game as well: 55-48 over visiting Cupertino Friday night. Eberle scored 21 points for the Eagles (2-0 league, 9-5 overall) and Heck had 11.

Mountain View, meanwhile, got back on the winning track by whipping Wilcox 69-46 on the road Friday night. Tobin scored 15 points for the Spartans (1-1 league, 9-5 overall). Charlie Eggleton and Adi Paret added 11 points each.

Mountain View is slated to host Homestead (0-0, 5-8) 7 p.m. today and Los Altos is scheduled to visit Palo Alto (1-0, 9-2 overall) at the same time.

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