The Wilcox Chargers basketball team came into Friday’s home tilt against the Los Gatos Wildcats on quite a roll, having won six of their last eight games (3-1 in league). Wilcox was certainly flying high heading into Friday, but, as it turns out, perhaps a little too high.
Each of the three league opponents Wilcox had defeated–Cupertino, Los Altos and Gunn–had also previously beat Los Gatos. Therefore, one might have thought Wilcox would be slightly favored against Los Gatos. Unfortunately for Chargers supporters, their squad was nearly doubled up on the scoreboard, losing by a final of 64-37. Only a handful of late points in the final minute prevented a thirty-point loss. As you could imagine, nobody in the Chargers locker room was in a good mood after losing by 27, although Head Coach Robert Toloy was quick to give Los Gatos credit.
“They were hungry, hungrier than us, at 1-3. They are probably one of the best 1-3 teams in CCS.”
From tipoff Wilcox looked like it was missing its usual spark. The Chargers looked out of sync from the get go with a string of bad turnovers in quick succession. Midway through the first quarter the score was just 8-7 Los Gatos, but the quarter ended with the visitors up 15-7.
“We’re a young team, that’s going to happen,” added coach Toloy on the early turnovers. “We just didn’t do the things we have been doing to win three games in the league and that showed tonight.”
To start the second quarter it looked like the Chargers were getting back to full throttle as they climbed back within 15-14. Senior Christian Fitzpatrick made a nice fake shot, attacked the lane and assisted Franchon Butler for an easy layup. Fitzpatrick then drove for a basket on the next possession, before a three-pointer from Franchon’s twin brother Deshawn Butler pulled Wilcox to within just one point.
“They just got stops and we didn’t,” reflected Deshawn Butler on the loss. “We have to fix our half court defense.”
After that flurry of offense the Chargers simply couldn’t make a basket and Los Gatos would take over the game. The Wildcats would outscore the Chargers 12-4 the rest of the second quarter to take a 27-18 point lead at halftime. Needless to say, the second half was all Wildcats. An impressive buzzer beating jump shot with a successful and-one free throw attempt from Franchon Butler made the third quarter score a bit more respectable, but Los Gatos still won the quarter 18-8.
Despite the humbling loss, it is evident to why the Chargers have been successful to start the league season. There is a good mix of size and agility on the roster. Six-foot, five-inch senior Zach Hill is back playing after missing the start of the season due to a football injury. And the aforementioned team captain Fitzpatrick shows flashes of brilliance both finishing himself and setting up teammates.
“[Hill] brings a lot, he really rebounds for us, boxes out,” chimed Deshawn Butler on Hill. “He’s a hustle man, he gets all the hustle points, contributes a lot to this team. [Fitzpatrick], he’s my guy, he’s one of our leaders, he’s the main guy to go to, controls the tempo and helps pick us up when the game isn’t going our way.”
While no competitive sports team ever enjoys losing, perhaps the lopsided score is a bit of a wake-up call for the inexperienced Chargers squad?
“Sometimes you need to get your butts kicked like that,” commented coach Toloy. “At the high school level with a lot of young kids, 3-1, second place, you got to keep them grounded, keep them humble. Maybe that was part of it. We’ll move forward and bounce back.”