Emma Newman staff writer
The crowd yelled after the Santa Monica Vikings made their last shot as the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, causing the varsity basketball game’s score to shift from a winning 49-48 to a losing 49-50. The boys team lost this past Tuesday, which was also senior night, despite having home-court advantage.
Throughout the first and second quarter of the game, the Normans held a small but steady lead against the Vikings, partially because of successful plays from forward junior Jordan Williams and power guard junior Aaron Liberty. The team was winning by three points at the end of the half, although the Vikings began to inch closer during the second quarter.
By the end of the third quarter, the Vikings lead by two points, as they had scored six more points than the Normans during that quarter. Throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter, the teams were neck-and-neck.
As the game progressed, the already energetic crowd, with rowdy fans rooting for both the Normans and the Vikings, became increasingly more enthusiastic about the game. The excitement was expressed through several chants, including a chant by almost half of the stadium directed toward the referee, calling his plays bulls**t . The band also played “Let’s Go Normans,” as the minutes and seconds counted down in the fourth quarter.
Varsity associate head coach Kevin Gibson thought that the crowd, which was comprised of mostly Norman fans, was one of the reasons that the team played a higher level than usual.
“Playing at home and playing to the crowd and having all the support helped our team significantly,” Gibson said.
At half-time, the crowd kept up their passion as the cheer team performed and the band played their songs; however, the star of half-time was Wish Week recipient Hunter, who was awarded his wish of going to the Disneyland resort in Hawaii.
Both teams improved as the energy of the audience became increasingly palpable during the second half. The players were not just making impressive shots, they were also making lots of defensive plays.
“Honestly, we were in a little slump before, even though we were still winning games, but the energy felt great,” power forward senior Daniel Beinstock, whose birthday happened to be the day of the game, said.
The teams ran all over the court, blocking plays and scoring points that shifted the score back and forth. While the Vikings made more three-pointers and group plays, the Normans had more dunks and free-throws. With six seconds left on the clock, the Normans scored their last point, which made their victory look eminent. However, right before the game was over, the Vikings stole the ball back and made a winning shot.
The win was upsetting to Gibson, but he also viewed the game as a stepping stone for improvement.
“I was sad, but I use it as a learning tool because we’ll have to play against a team like that again and the situation will be almost identical,” Gibson said.
Beinstock also was unhappy about the loss, especially due to the quick sequence of events that led up to the Vikings’ final two points.
Because the shot happened at the very last second, many spectators and players thought that it shouldn’t have counted.
One of the spectators who thought the referee made a bad call at the end was sophomore Samantha Maybaum, although she said she was “biased” due to her love of the team.
“I liked seeing our team win and I was just so heartbroken that we were this close to winning, but we didn’t in the end,” Maybaum said.
Power guard junior Aaron Liberty partly blames himself for the loss, and he said he should have never jumped because he “got dunked on” during the last play. Despite the loss, Liberty said that the game was an overall positive experience because it was “the last home game with [his] dogs.”
Beinstock believes that the team gave up too many offensive rebounds, which contributed to their loss. However, he also thought about the game as a great one, especially due to the fact that the team was missing a starter and still managed to almost win.
“Overall, throughout the game, we played at a high level,” he said. “Defensively, I thought we were pretty solid. We missed a few shots, but I think overall we played pretty well.”
Click here to see the last shot of the game, which occurred at the 1 hour and 42 minute mark.