The bus ride to the game against the Bellflower High School Buccaneers was surprisingly quiet. The varsity boys team was visibly anxious to see if their hard work would pay off in time for preseason.
“During the summer we weren’t as good as we hoped we were,” senior Miguel Quintana said. “I feel like after we’ve practiced and gone over plays, everyone is on the same page now, so I feel like we’re going to do a lot better.”
Quintana’s prediction was an understatement. The San Gabriel High School Matadors crushed the Buccaneers by a 30 point margin, allowing them to move up the bracket and play the winner of the adjacent Blue Pride Classic game, Hacienda Heights (HH) Wilson High School.
The Buccaneers won the tip off as the game began. Both teams showed aggressive defense as possession of the ball switched rapidly. After a few shots, the energy mellowed out and the quarter ended with a slight, five point lead for the Matadors.
The second quarter brought more methodical action from both teams. Bellflower managed to double their score. However, thanks to several substitutions made by Coach Jason Meador, the Matadors still managed to advance their lead to 17 points by the end of the quarter.
The energy was palpable as the players’ excitement grew. Cheers erupted from the bench after every major play, enough to drown out chants for defense by impassioned fans. At the end of the third quarter, the Matadors were 25 points ahead of the visibly flustered Buccaneers.
The fourth quarter hearkened back to the fast paced action of the first. Coach Meador subbed in senior Matthew Luu, who went on to take part in several key plays. Together, the team managed to push their lead as far as it would go. Despite an unexpected false buzzer in the final quarter, the Matadors powered through and finished the game 85-55.
The team, although tired, was visibly excited about their win. Quips were exchanged over a key play by senior Andrew Canizal, who took charge and had a particularly aggressive player removed from the game through a foul trouble. Though it may just be a preseason game, the hope is that The Matadors’ strong leadership and spirit will remain so until the season starts. The Matadors will play against HH Wilson High School this Saturday, Dec. 9.