The Life West Gladiators defeated the visiting Palmer West Dragons 63-45 in their sixth meeting of the Bay Area Basketball Classic.
Palmer West fans came in bunches and made the trip from San Jose to Hayward, representing in their school colors of purple and black. Their colors were soon lost in a sea of Gladiator fans wearing green.
The Gladiators came out to play from the start of the tip. They were relentless on defense and on the boards.
After relinquishing the first two points of the game, the Gladiators quickly answered back with an 8-0 run. Gladiator guards Balraj Khakh and Kevin Mansoor sparked the run with their passing and shooting.
“On the offensive end we focused on moving the ball around and to look for the open man,” said Gladiator Head Coach, Jonathan Darwin. “The guys were very unselfish with the ball and hit the open guy every time.”
The Gladiator’s stifling defense clouded passing lanes and made it difficult for the Dragons to settle in their offense.
Offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities helped the Gladiators gain the 13-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Dragon’s offensive struggles continued in the second quarter. The Gladiator defense continued to pressure the ball – causing turnovers that resulted in easy transition points.
The loud echo of “Let’s go Palmer” chants from the Palmer West supporters bounced around the gymnasium, as they cheered on their Dragons to finish the half strong. But still, they saw their Dragons down 19-32 at halftime.
With the Dragons against the ropes, the Gladiators looked poised to put the game away. They maintained a double digit lead throughout the third quarter. Up 46-33, the Gladiator fans were in a frenzy at the start of the fourth quarter.
“It’s great to see our fans having fun and to feed off their energy,” said Gladiator forward, Johnnie Morgan. “The atmosphere has always been great at these games. The fans always come out strong to support us.”
The Dragons fought valiantly in the fourth quarter, but were ultimately outmatch by the Gladiator’s speed and athleticism.
“Our guys just played hard and really wanted to win. I’m glad they put forth all the effort to do the little things to win the game,” Darwin said.
Vincent Joshton scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half.
“Joshton had a great performance. He attacked the basket very well and got key stops on defense. He basically took over the game during the course of the fourth quarter,” Darwin said.
The victory marks the fourth consecutive win for the Gladiators in the Bay Area Basketball Classic, after being defeated in the first two meetings.