Doomed by a slow start in a lopsided loss to Los Gatos two days earlier, the Los Altos High boys basketball team set the tone from the jump Friday at Cupertino and prevailed 58-36.
“We really didn’t bring the assertiveness on Wednesday, and we kind of let them dictate what we did on offense and defense,” said swingman Matt Eberle, the leading scorer in Friday’s Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division contest. “So today our goal was really to come back and be the assertive team and bring it to them first and keep it like that the entire game.”
The Eagles (5-2 league, 12-7 overall) never trailed the Pioneers (3-4, 12-7). Los Altos buried its first two shots, with guard Nolan Brennan’s 3-point swish giving the Eagles a 5-0 lead 73 seconds into the game. Los Altos held a 15-6 advantage by quarter’s end.
Coach Trevor Naas was pleased not only with the fast start, but also with the way the Eagles moved the ball in the first period – and beyond.
“We shared the basketball, something we didn’t do Wednesday night,” he said. “Tonight we did that and a lot of different guys contributed, and that’s why we ended up being successful.”
Four Los Altos players scored in the opening quarter, all of whom finished with double-digit points: Eberle (15), Jake Shab (13), Simon Heck (12) and Brennan (11).
Cupertino opened the second quarter by scoring seven straight points to cut its deficit to two, but the Eagles answered with an even bigger run. Los Altos scored the next 10 points, getting four from Heck and the last two on a low-post bucket from Eberle set up by Brennan’s one-handed pass.
The Pioneers snapped their four-and-a-half-minute scoreless streak with a drive by center Meelad Danai, but Brennan responded by drilling a straight-away 3. Cupertino’s George Ellegood tried to respond with a 3 of his own, which missed, but the officials called a foul that sent him to the line with a second remaining in the half. The call didn’t sit well with the Los Altos coaching staff, but it cost the Eagles only one point and they went into the locker room with a 28-16 advantage.
Guard Ellegood, who averages a team-best 16 points per game, was held to 10 Friday. He and Jack Townsend (10 points) were the only Pioneers in double figures.
“Tonight we stuck to a defensive game plan, and I thought we played very well for most of this game against a very good player in George Ellegood and the rest of the Cupertino team,” Naas said.
The Pioneers made one last run at the Eagles in the third quarter, scoring six straight points midway through it. With Los Altos’ lead down to seven points, guard Nemin Htet drilled a trey that seemed to reignite the Eagles’ offense. They closed the quarter on a 13-5 run capped by back-to-back 3s from Eberle
“We started sharing the ball better and running our offense,” said Eberle, whose team held a 43-30 edge to start the fourth. “Us getting shots really spiraled onto the defensive end, and we played a lot better at the end of the third quarter and fourth quarter.”
Los Altos limited Cupertino to only six points in the fourth and led by as many as 23.
The Eagles are scheduled to host first-place Palo Alto 7 p.m. today.