The Wilcox Chargers earned their first league win of the season in thrilling fashion on Friday night, knocking off the Mountain View Spartans, 47-44.
With the score tied at 44, the Chargers had the ball with just under 40 seconds remaining. On what would end up being their final offensive possession, star sophomore Brendon Yi—who had been dazzling all night long—came through one final time in the clutch.
Left open beyond the arc, Yi drained a three pointer with just 9.2 seconds remaining. The Spartans would muster up a decent look at a tying three-point shot, but the shot rimmed out and DeShawn Butler secured the rebound as time expired.
“I felt like I had the hot hand tonight, for sure,” admitted Yi after the game. “On a couple of threes late in the game, I just held my follow through and I knew it was going to go down. When I got the ball at the end there, I had no hesitation on taking the shot. I knew it was going to go in.”
While Yi showed to be a confident player both on the court and off the court, neither selfishness nor cockiness were evident in his performance. None of the sophomore’s shots were forced into traffic, and as a natural point guard, he admits he would rather make a great pass to win the game than a great shot. Whether creating turnovers on defense, passing or shooting, Yi always made the right play at the right time.
“That’s one of the things we have been talking to Brendon about, is to just let the game come to you and he did that tonight,” remarked Chargers Head Coach Robert Toloy. “The options are going to open up on the floor. When you have guys like DeShawn and Franchon Butler who really draw attention, plays are going to open up. You know Brendon’s really crafty. He’s able to change his speeds. All he needs is to create that half step for himself and he can pull up. Personally, I’m not a fan of that mid-range shot, but he’s earned that. I trust him. He’s only a sophomore, I got him for two more years, he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
On that night Yi finished with 15 points, three assists and two steals. His demonstrated an amazing ability to shake-n-bake—getting defenders going the wrong direction and then quickly driving the other way. For a smaller player, it was extremely impressive seeing him create his own opportunities.
“He has tremendous basketball sense,” added coach Toloy on Yi. “Franchon and DeShawn respected him from the get go. When he wasn’t eligible to play yet [due to transferring schools], he didn’t miss a single practice, he was always the first in the gym shooting around. He would lead our second team and beat our first team all the time. So I knew he was gonna help us, but when he first transferred over, nobody had any idea because he was so tiny and thin. Nobody knew he was going to be this good. But when we saw him in summer league and tournaments, we were like ‘holy cow, this kid is for real.’”
With the victory, the Chargers improve to just 1-6 in a tough division. However, a hard-fought win on the road against the Spartans—whom the Chargers lost to by 23 earlier in the season—could certainly springboard Wilcox to some more victories as league play continues. Wilcox will next take on Cupertino (Yi’s former school) on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Wilcox already lost to Cupertino this season 44-37, so naturally Yi and the rest of the Chargers will be hungry for the rematch.