By Tom Bequette, Staff Writer
// Men’s varsity basketball (15-8, 3-6 DFAL) stayed with an explosive Campolindo team, but were ultimately edged out 65-58 in front of a large home crowd Wednesday night who had come to honor their outgoing seniors.
Before the game got underway the school took a moment to acknowledge the departing seniors on the team along with their families. Seniors Shreekar Pandey, John Kalil, Murphy Baker and Aidan Bodner were thanked for their dedication to the team and were all met with standing ovations from the packed crowd.
After the festivities, all eyes turned to the court for what was to be an intense matchup between the fierce rivals. Campolindo (18-5, 9-0 DFAL) was dead set on protecting their undefeated DAL record, while the Dons were seeking revenge for the 78-35 blowout they had suffered to the Cougars earlier in the season.
The Dons were able to limit Campo’s explosive offense early on, while Pandey was able to hit some nice floaters in the lane to keep the Dons close. Additionally, when the Dons reached 10 points on a Scott Ruegg three pointer, the student section erupted as per Silent Night tradition.
However, the Cougars elite shooting kept them ahead of the Dons 18-17 at the end of the first quarter.
To open up the second quarter the Dons defense grew more intense, and with 6:05 left in the quarter, Kalil backed down his defender and scooped a layup off the backboard to give Acalanes a 21-18 lead, much to the delight of the student section.
Junior Scott Ruegg kept it going for the Dons by hitting a pair of step-back three’s to keep Acalanes in front for most of the second quarter, but Campo got hot from behind the arc and at the half the teams were knotted up at 34 apiece.
To start the second half Campo showed no signs of cooling off as they were able to connect on two three’s and spring out to a 40-34 lead.
But junior Jackson Aris-Dumas came to the rescue by drawing a charge on defense and then hitting a contested three on the other to keep the Dons within striking distance. But at the end of the third quarter Campo held a 55-50 lead.
“We were playing well and showing a lot of grit, but so were they which made it really tough,” Junior Joey Carrillo said.
Despite the scrappy play of the Dons, the Cougars natural athleticism gave them the advantage during the early fourth quarter and allowed them to grab a 52-60 advantage with 4:30 left in the game.
The Dons were able to engineer a mini-comeback led by Ruegg, as the junior grabbed a steal on one end and hit yet another timely step-back three to cut the deficit to 55-60 with 3:14 to go. But the Cougars were able to knock-down some tough shots and effectively ice the game, 58-65, maintaining their undefeated conference record.
While the Dons did suffer a loss, the team remains optimistic and proud about how tightly they played the Cougars compared to their earlier meeting.
“We obviously wanted to win, but considering we lost by 40 to them a couple of weeks ago, this is a little bit of a moral victory for us,” Carrillo said.
The Dons will look to bounce back from the close defeat when they travel to College Park next Tuesday night.