Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Nate Vieira, driving, collides with Westmoor’s Wai Min in Saturday’s CCS Division II quarterfinal game.
Westmoor couldn’t stop Los Altos High’s Nate Vieira – and neither could a leg cramp.
The senior overcame the injury, which left him writhing on the floor in agony early in the fourth quarter, to lead the eighth-seeded Eagles to a 75-66 upset of the top-seeded team in the Central Coast Section Division II boys basketball playoffs. Saturday’s win sent Los Altos (19-7) to the semifinals for the first time in school history.
“I knew they needed me and I just had to play through the pain,” Vieira said.
The point guard scored six points after the cramp – which occurred with 5:22 remaining – to help keep the Rams at a safe distance. His drive down the middle of the lane a minute later pushed Los Altos’ advantage to 61-50.
After Westmoor (23-5) cut the deficit to five points, Vieira got himself to the foul line. He made both free throws – and two more on the Eagles’ next possession – to extend the lead to 67-58 with 2:16 left.
“That’s the best he’s played,” coach Bob McFarlane said of Vieira, who drained a trio of 3-pointers Saturday. “He was just a huge factor in our win.”
The coach also praised Vieira for the way he ran the offense and handled Westmoor’s pressure defense. The Rams pressed throughout the game in an effort to take advantage of their quickness and minimalize their lack of height (no player over 6-foot-1), but Los Altos overcame it time after time.
“We thought we could do well in transition if we ran our press break efficiently,” McFarlane said. “When you have such an aggressive press, you leave yourself vulnerable.”
After a few early turnovers that enabled Westmoor to go up 9-3, the Eagles scored on six straight possessions. Vieira buried two 3s and Joey Malgesini made one, along with a drive. Los Altos held an 18-16 lead by quarter’s end and would never trail again.
The bigger Eagles attacked the rim more in the second quarter, with seven of their eight field goals coming from inside the paint. Daniel Rosenbaum scored six of his 14 points in the period, all on drives. Fellow forward Steven Garverick capped the quarter with a short-range hook that put Los Altos up 34-26 at halftime.
The Eagles built on that lead in the third, with guard Mac Kliman drilling two treys and Vieira scoring in myriad ways (two free throws, a midrange jumper and a baseline 3). Los Altos entered the final quarter ahead 53-41.
“Usually the third quarter is our worst quarter, and today it was our best quarter,” Vieira said. “I think that was the most important quarter of today.”
The Eagles were scheduled to meet No. 4 Willow Glen (21-6) in Tuesday’s semifinals, played after the Town Crier’s press deadline.