Varsity Boys’ Basketball Falls in Much-Hyped Clash vs. Vandegrift 33-29

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  • Christian Robinson ’20 looks for an open teammate. Robinson passed the ball to a fellow Warrior, giving him an opportunity to score.

  • Brandon Parks ’20 is surrounded by Vandegrift players. Parks was able to maneuver around the vipers and pass the ball to a teammate.

  • Zach Engels ’22 dribbles the ball down the court in hopes of increasing the Warriors’ score. The Warriors held their own offensively, keeping the score close during the game.

  • Arjun Seth ’21 goes face to face with an opposing Viper. Seth was able to hit a three late in the fourth quarter to cut Vandegrift’s lead to one.

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In an absolutely packed Field House, the varsity boys’ basketball team took on district foe Vandegrift on Friday, Feb. 7, in a match that was highly anticipated across the Westwood community. Instead of an offensive shootout, fans were treated to a defensive slugfest; throughout the entire game, few open looks were allowed by either team. However, in the end, the Vipers were able to pull away late and defeat the Warriors 33-29.

“Playing in front of a huge crowd can cause some pre-game nerves, but once you start playing and focus in, everything else in the game fades into the background,” Santi Campos ‘20 said.

The high intensity of this game was on display early, with neither team giving many opportunities for the other to strike. Thanks to an electrifying dunk from Vandegrift star Greg Brown ‘20 that brought the house down, the visiting Vipers were able to hold onto the lead for the majority of the quarter. At the end of the first eight minutes, Vandegrift led 11-9.

Both sides stepped up their physicality in the second frame, constantly diving for loose balls and fighting for possession, and the two foes began to put the clamps on each other. Once again, little opportunities were presented for either side to score, but the Warriors were able to take the lead before halftime and preserve their newfound advantage, with the Warriors up 20-19 as both teams headed into the locker rooms.

Vandegrift was able to start the second half with a quick layup, but there was a long stretch after that during which no one could get anything to fall. After another Vandegrift score that ended the drought, Zach Engels ‘22 nailed a three to tie the game, and a reverse layup from Anish Maddipoti ‘20 gave the Warriors the lead again. However, the Vipers responded with a deep three-pointer at the other end, and that’s how the third chapter in the contest would end, with the Vipers leading 26-25.

“Since Vandy plays a 1-3-1 zone, we prepared by working heavily on a zone offense in practice,” Campos said. “Due to their size, we made an emphasis on driving into the paint in order to get someone on the perimeter open for a three.”

To start the final quarter of the game, the visiting Vipers scored four straight points to increase their lead to five, but after a Vandegrift foul, Brandon Parks ‘20 hit one out of two free throws to make the lead 30-26 in favor of the Vipers. The lead was cut even further after an Arjun Seth ‘21 three-pointer was converted with two minutes left, sending the home crowd into a frenzy as the Warriors now only found themselves down by one. However, the Vipers hit two free throws to increase their lead to three, and Engels and Carson King ‘22 couldn’t convert opportunities on the offensive end, forcing the Warriors to foul to preserve time. After a Vandegrift free throw, the Warriors had not enough time to cut into the lead, and the Vipers escaped a hostile environment with a 33-29 win.

“It really sucked to lose because after being on the sideline for our two previous losses [because of my broken foot], I was waiting for the chance to finally beat [them]”, Maddipoti said.

The varsity team will play at Leander for their next game on Tuesday, Feb. 11.