Matadors fight for a shot at league

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In Madrid, if you want to see art and athleticism unfold in the same tantalizing dance, you watch the matadors in the Plaza de Toros. In East County, you watch the Matadors in the Mount Miguel high school gym.

Ten highly synchronized boys comprise the Matador basketball team this season, ten boys who have been fighting to keep league in their sights.

In Madrid, if you want to see art and athleticism unfold in the same tantalizing dance, you watch the matadors in the Plaza de Toros. In East County, you watch the Matadors in the Mount Miguel high school gym.

Ten highly synchronized boys comprise the Matador basketball team this season, ten boys who have been fighting to keep league in their sights.

On Friday night, February 3, 2017, Mount Miguel (5-1) hosted Santana (2-4), beating the Sultans 60-55. It was a win they needed, having lost to current league leaders Granite Hills, (6-0) two days prior with a frustrating two-point loss. But this win keeps them in the running for league title.

Head coach Jay Rowlett said the five-point victory over Santana was not the win margin they were looking for, but it was a solid effort from the team given the week they had had.

“We were kind of sluggish in the first half, coming off that big game against Granite,” he said. “We do what we have to do to win league games. Now we have get ready for El Cajon on Tuesday.”

The Matadors, made up of four seniors, four juniors, and two ferocious sophomores, have a certain indelible quality in their style of play. Rowlett said they have the best chemistry of any team he has coached in recent years. And while it may be a little raw, there is definitely something about the energy in their play.

During their game against Santana, half time approached with the Matadors up, 31-30. Sidelines were tense and it was not until the Matadors scored from the three-point line in the last two seconds that there seemed to be a breath of relief. When the team re-exited the lockers minutes later, a renewed sense of purpose seemed to have been born within them. And they played like it.

For the next two quarters, the Matadors attacked with unrelenting drive and electric energy. It is quite possible that they spent more time with their toes in the air, chasing baskets, than they did on the gym floor.

Most notable about their style, however, was the complete absence of ego. Like senior Darian Norwood racing under the hoop, ready to jump, only to turn and shoot the ball back to teammate Devon Brown, who had a better vantage point. The ready-set-pass strategy was employed by many of the Matadors over the course of the second half, giving them an edge on the untiring Sultans.

Norwood said it is not nurtured strategy as much as it is just the nature of good play.

“That’s just our instinct,” he said. “Whenever we see someone who has a better shot than us, we just kick it to them. We know who are shooters are.”

Basketball is not about showboating talents for the Matadors, said Norwood.

“Everyone’s all the same,” he said. “We’re individuals but we’re the same team. We’re all love.” 

Rowlett said a lot of the team’s success can be attributed to direction and dedication.

“We’ve got good leadership with our seniors,” he said. “And all ten play hard. It’s a pleasure to coach them.”

Norwood said he was grateful for the win against Santana, but it is just one step in a long road for the Matadors.

“The important thing about winning this game was bouncing back,” he said. “The intensity that we brought out today we need to bring every time so we can win that league title.”

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