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February 6, 2023
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Los Gatos High basketball teams take control in quest to win SCVAL De Anza Division championship

The Los Gatos High boys and girls basketball teams are in the pole position in their respective quests to win Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division titles. 

Both teams are off to 4-0 starts in league play and in sole possession of first place. The Wildcats “hosted” a doubleheader against Palo Alto on Jan. 4 in a pair of games that was supposed to be played at Helm Gym. However, due to a power outage at the school because of the recent storms, the contests had to be moved to Saratoga High. 

The girls team played first and came away with an impressive 55-44 win, and the boys team followed immediately afterward and looked strong in a 60-41 victory over the Vikings. Palo Alto is a perennial contender to win the De Anza, so any time Los Gatos can beat them, it has implications in deciding which team wins the championship. 

The Los Gatos girls trailed 24-19 at halftime before dominating the second half, outscoring Palo Alto 36-20 in the final 16 minutes to win going away. It was a complete team effort as five players scored eight points or more, led by Casey Brennan’s 14 points. 

Nicole Steiner and Claire Galbo scored 10 points each, and Ella Rabitz and Ashley Childers combined for 17 points. The Wildcats made five 3-pointers and did an excellent job of getting to the free throw line, though it only made 14-of-23 (61%) from the charity stripe. 

Steiner was dominant on the glass again, collecting 17 of the team’s 29 rebounds. Galbo and Childers combined for 11 rebounds. Even though the win was key, Los Gatos didn’t have time to rest on its laurels because it played Los Altos High the very next night, cruising to a 47-29 win. 

Steiner had 24 points and was ultra-efficient, finishing 7 of 9 from the field and 10 of 14 from the free throw line. However, the best was yet to come. On Martin Luther King Day, Los Gatos won a non-league showdown with Evergreen Valley in a matchup between two of the section’s top teams. 

Steiner had 20 points and 19 rebounds, and Childers scored 15 points as the Wildcats showed their second-half dominance yet again, outscoring Evergreen Valley 24-13. They now have two wins over teams that are known for their press in Palo Alto and Evergreen, which bodes well for the rest of the season. 

They’re playing with mental toughness and have been strong with the ball. Meanwhile, the Los Gatos boys had a similar jam-packed schedule, playing Los Altos two days after the Palo Alto game and then a tough Gunn team on MLK Day. In what can only be described as a statement game, Los Gatos blew out Palo Alto in a contest many thought would come down to the wire. 

The Wildcats had other ideas. Max Houghton scored 18 points, Scotty Brennan 16 and Tommy Ankenbrandt and Nolan Koch had nine points each. The Wildcats shot 45% from the field, and anything close to 50% in a high school game is considered excellent. 

They also made five 3-pointers and went 17 of 22 from the free throw line. Koch had nine boards and was one of 10 Los Gatos players to grab a rebound as coach Nick Ward was able to play virtually his entire roster. 

The Wildcats could’ve suffered a letdown after such a critical win, but they took care of business with resounding wins over Los Altos and Gunn. facing a bigger Gunn Titans squad, Los Gatos nonetheless displayed its superiority and strength in the second half, outscoring them 28-10 to cruise to victory. 

Houghton had 16 points and Brennan eight as the duo delivered another dynamic performance. The Wildcats continue to play well in the second half, a testament to their determination, toughness and resilience. 

Wildcats post Nicole Steiner drives to the basket in the Wildcats’ 11-point win over Palo Alto. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Ronan Chinmulgund is one of the reasons why the Los Gatos boys has a 4-0 league record. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Scotty Brennan scored 16 points in the Wildcats’ 60-41 win over Palo Alto on Jan. 11. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected]


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