The Wilcox Chargers varsity basketball team hosted the Santa Clara Bruins on Wednesday night. Through two quarters it appeared to be an evenly matched affair between the two bitter rivals.
Santa Clara owned the first quarter, finishing the opening frame with a 23-15 advantage. Sophomore forward Karan Kolappa paced the Bruins with six points, junior Noor Moosleh picked up five and both Diallo Holmes and Apollo Son drained threes.
Wilcox responded though in the second quarter led by junior point guard Tyson Bonilla, whose three-point shot pulled the Chargers within one at 23-22. Bonilla would score 11 of the Chargers’ 20 second-quarter points as Wilcox outscored the Bruins 20-7 in the second stanza, taking a 35-30 advantage into the half.
Wilcox would pull away in the third quarter, in large part thanks to the Semaj Clark show. The sophomore guard showed off his shake ’n‘ bake moves, reminiscent of NBA hall of famer Allen Iverson. Clark earned the biggest oos and ahhs in the packed Wilcox gymnasium with his slick ball-handling and crossover dribbles leaving defenders in the dust. Clark finished with six points in the quarter as the Chargers opened up a 56-36 lead heading into the fourth.
“He’s super fun to watch when on the bench; fun to play with on the court,” chimed Bonilla on Clark’s wizardry on the floor. “Practice is always fun, gives me the opportunity to become a better defender because of how shifty he is.”
“You can’t teach that, you can’t teach that,” repeated Wilcox Head Coach Ruben Camacho on Clark’s natural ability. “If I could, I would put it into everybody’s body.”
“That’s the first person I ever studied as a point guard,” confirmed Clark through a wide grin when told his game reminds others of Iverson. “Not being the tallest, I always have to find new moves, new ways to get to the basket and score. Anything I can do to win.”
Clark and Bonilla getting to the basket was crucial for the Chargers in this game as the Bruins went in with a game plan to take their three ball away.
“We scouted them and they are a three-point shooting team. The teams that have beat them have played man on man and out-pressured them,” said Bruins Head Coach Brian Van Dyck. “We held them to two, three-point shots. The problem is, because they are so powerful, they are about six deep, they can spread the floor.”
Once the Chargers settled down from the emotion at tipoff, the deeper team found their stride, attacking the basket.
“I noticed it early in the game,” remarked Bonilla on the Bruins’ tightly guarding the three-point line. “So, I just planned to get to the rack.”
Opposite Bonilla at the guard position for the Bruins was senior Darius Everett. The Bruins’ captain had an impressive and-one layup early in the game and drained a three later on as part of a strong performance in the losing effort.
“We came out with lots of energy, but then we just kept looking at the scoreboard when they would come back instead of playing our game,” noted Everett. “We got too much in our own heads and it affected our game.”
With the eventual 71-56 loss, Santa Clara falls to 0-3 in league while the Chargers remain undefeated at 3-0.