On a night where it was tough for all parties involved to find a rhythm, Milpitas High senior Buddy Ames managed to save his lone field goal of the night for crutch time.
Ames rolled in a driving layup with 30 seconds to go in regulation, then stole a pass on the other end to preserve things for the Milpitas boys basketball team.
Milpitas defeated Gunn High-Palo Alto 41-35 Wednesday night, grabbing its first Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division victory in a matchup of two teams desperately searching for league ‘W’ number one.
Senior captain Derek Fox led all scorers with 18 points for the Trojans. Ten of his 18 came in the second half, capping the game off nicely by knocking down a pair of key free throws with just over a minute to play.
“A win is a win no matter how you do it,” Ames said. “We really need to cut the turnovers down, because of that there was no ball execution for us tonight. I just wanted to be aggressive and try to get a call. I’m glad I got that one to fall plus the whistle.”
Gunn (5-10, 0-4), now 0-4 in league play under first year head coach Michael Ferolino, hung around all night and even rallied to take a 32-31 advantage late in the fourth quarter.
The sizable tandem of 6-foot-4 junior Max Girod and 6-foot-6 senior Keenan Venuti combined to score 13 points for the Titans, while also making life difficult on the defensive end as well.
Girod, who led Gunn with nine points in defeat, knocked down a leaner at the top of the key to tie the score at 35.
“It was the little things that cost us tonight,” Coach Ferolino said. “We went 9-for-18 at the free throw line and turned the ball over way too much. Those two things hurt us.”
After the Girod score, Ames’ aggressive move put Milpitas on top for good.
Milpitas (10-6, 1-2) fell by one point to begin De Anza play at Los Gatos High on Jan. 4. A 10-point non-league win over Homestead followed before a 63-54 loss to Mountain View High occurred last week.
Milpitas was held off the board until the 1:30 mark in the first quarter. The seven turnovers compared to only one field goal make in the opening eight minutes left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone on the Trojans bench.
“The refs were calling a lot,” Ames said. “It really messed up the rhythm. I got three fouls early and couldn’t get back in the game for another six minutes.”
Two subs gave each side a nice boost, started off by sophomore guard Tre Hartley, who nabbed three steals and connected on a pair of deep jump shots in the Trojans win. Hartley scored seven points off the bench for Milpitas, while senior Malik Glll chipped in eight points in a reserve role for Gunn.
Both teams return to the court on Friday night. Milpitas will play at Cupertino High (10-6, 1-3), while Gunn will host Homestead.
Milpitas – 4 13 10 14 – 41
Gunn- 6 7 10 12 – 35