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Boys’ basketball tries to fill holes after losing key players

Paly boys’ basketball got their first win of the 2012-13 campaign as they defeated Menlo School by a score of 73-47. Senior Aldis Petriceks scored a team high of 25 points along with eight rebounds. Not to be forgotten is the play of senior Scotty Peery, who came off the bench and put up 16 points, with 12 of his 16 points coming from downtown.

Paly also welcomed the addition of starting varsity quarterback Keller Chryst, who will play center for the Vikings. In his debut, he scored four points and had eight rebounds.

Petriceks, who had a great start to his senior season for the Vikings, felt  his team showed the potential it has to be solid in all facets on the court, particularly three point shooting.

“We shot around 50 percent from three, and if you do that you will always have a great chance to win,” Petriceks said. “I think we also did a great job of adjusting defensively to what Menlo tried to do in the second half.”

Under head coach Steve Sax, the team has high expectations after going 21-5 overall and 10-2 in league last season. Senior leadership will be important this year, as previous top player E.J. Floreal, who would have been a senior this year, moved to Lexington, Ky. over the summer.

“Some people think we are in trouble without E.J. this season,” Peery said. “But if we play to our strengths we could definitely win some games.”

This year’s playing style will change with the loss of Floreal, as Paly will have to look for more perimeter scoring which plays to the advantage of this group of players.

“It’s very different from Paly teams in recent history,” Petriceks said. “We’re going to look to the three ball a lot, and I don’t think we’re as focused on defense as we have been in the past, but I think it’s the strongest team we’ve had in a few years.”

Seniors this year include forwards Aubrey Dawkins, Aldis Petriceks and Eilon Tzur along with guards Mathias Schmutz, Kenny Jones and Scotty Peery. The seniors will be key to the team’s success because they will have to take the reins of the team with leadership on and off the court.

Israel Hakim, who now plays at Prairie View A&M, point guard Alec Wong and centers Tory Prati and Michael Augustine all graduated last year. Without Prati, Augustine and Floreal, the new squad lacks height on its roster. In order to make up for the loss of big men, the team will rely heavily on Chryst to rebound and play interior defense. Petriceks and Dawkins will also be asked to go after the boards more often than they did last year.

“I don’t think people have realized that we have so many options this year that are capable of filling E.J.’s role, and I still think we’re going to do great, just a bit differently than how we played last year,” Petriceks said.

Last year, Paly reached the second round of the CCS playoffs, losing a close contest to powerhouse Saint Francis High School. However, Palo Alto was able to win the De Anza league title over Mountain View High School.

“Personally, I just want to do what I can to help the team win,” Petriceks said. “I’m not really concerned with any of the stats or individual awards. As a team our goal is the same as every year: we definitely have to win our league. We’re going to try to make a run at a CCS title, and see where it takes us from there.”

Paly plays this week at the Fukushima Invitational, starting with a game against Mission High School at Independence High School.

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