Jailen Daniel-Dalton’s dazzling dunk was just another example of how the Mountain View High boys basketball team has elevated itself above the rest of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division this season.
The junior’s windmill jam early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game punctuated a 56-34 win for the Spartans, whose defense and 3-point shooting overwhelmed second-place Cupertino.
“I’ve been trying to do that for a while now,” said the 6-foot-4 Daniel-Dalton, who scored 10 points off the bench wearing a mask to protect his broken nose. “It took me countless hours … just hitting the rim. When I saw the steal, I just had to go for it.”
The breakaway dunk sent Mountain View’s bench into a frenzy and put the team up 25 points with just under 7 minutes left. The play stunned teammate Sam Tobin, who led all scorers with 19 points.
“Honestly, I thought he was just going to do a funky little jelly layup, but then he goes up and windmills,” the senior said. “I was just in shock, honestly. I couldn’t believe it.”
Tobin made some impressive shots as well. He finished 5-of-8 from 3-point range, with three of them coming in the decisive third quarter. The Spartans outscored the Pioneers 23-13 in the period, taking a 21-point lead into the fourth.
“He shoots the ball so well and hits so many big shots for us,” Mountain View coach Kevin Mack said of Tobin, who averages 20 points per game.
All of his points came after a first quarter in which both teams struggled to score. The Spartans missed eight of their 10 shots, yet they only trailed 5-4.
“We defended well, so it didn’t matter that we scored four points in the first quarter,” said Tobin, whose team forced four turnovers in the period. “We were still in the game.”
Mountain View made the first points of the second quarter on a low-post basket from 7-foot-1 center Will Dominguez – surrounded by defenders whenever he stepped in the paint – and led the rest of the way. The Spartans outscored the Pioneers 18-6 in the period – a spurt that featured a pair of 3s from reserve guard Ian Byun.
“It’s not really how you start,” said Daniel-Dalton, who helped get Mountain View going early in the second by scoring inside off an inbound pass from Jake Pappas. “We may come out sluggish, but we don’t put our heads down. We just keep our heads up and play through it.”
Up 22-11 at halftime, the Spartans opened the third quarter on a 10-4 run to pull away. Zach Moran produced half of those points (two free throws and a 3), Dominguez scored from the low block and Tobin buried a 3 that prompted a Cupertino timeout.
“I started to get a little groove going once I started making shots and got my confidence up,” Tobin said. “And seeing other guys hit shots, too, that was huge, because then they had to guard every single one of us. And so when they have to do that, it’s really dangerous for the other team because then anybody can score.”
Tobin and Mack agreed that this year’s team – now 7-0 in league and 17-2 overall – is more talented than the squad that won a Central Coast Section Division II title two seasons ago.
“What Jailen did in the fourth quarter ... we didn’t have that two years ago,” Tobin said. “We just have a lot of things going for us, and if we play our hand right, I think we have a really good chance to win.”
Mack added that this squad – like the CCS championship team – plays solid defense and works hard, but it also has something extra.
“I think we have more shooters on the perimeter,” he said. “We definitely have more size than we did two years ago.”
Now two games ahead of Cupertino (5-2 league, 12-7 overall) with five to play, Mountain View could secure the De Anza crown by next week.
The Spartans, who have won 13 games in a row, have a bye Friday and are scheduled to visit third-place Palo Alto 7 p.m. Monday.