Sobrato boys basketball coach Sean Tate watches the Bulldogs in action from the sideline during a league game against Gilroy High on Jan. 10 (Jonathan Natividad/Morgan Hill Times)
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Sobrato High tweaked the defenses and utilized offensive bursts from Vince Madriaga and Trey Miller to rally past Lynbrook 53-48 in a Central Coast Section Division II opener Feb. 16. The victory prompted a big celebration from the Bulldogs’ bench in the final seconds and loud cheers from the large Sobrato fan base that traveled to West San Jose and outnumbered the locals.

Sobrato moved on to the second round of the CCS playoffs the next day. In that contest, they put up a strong fight against a solid Oak Grove team but lost 55-48. Overall, it marked a fine season and a great step forward from last year’s 8-16 mark. 

Sobrato finished 13-13 overall this year, with a solid 6-4 record in the Blossom Valley Athletic League, Santa Teresa East Division. They navigated hurdles along the way, primarily the late-season injury to Sobrato’s tall inside star Aidan Mollenhauer that ended his season prematurely.

“It was good, as we missed out on the playoffs last year due to injuries and some other things,” coach Sean Tate said. “For these guys to work their way here and win, it is big. After they (Lynbrook) got on a run, we said that we are doing things right and value the ball. We stopped their transition and we started switching defenses on them.”

Tate modified the full-court defense to shackle Lynbrook, which had found some open avenues early. He also switched half-court defenses and that greatly hindered the Vikings’ offensive attack.

Sobrato rallied back from a 28-22 halftime deficit to lead 36-35 heading into the final quarter. Madriaga and Anthony Sapien made big contributions in the backcourt and Isaac Tracy was fierce on the boards. Miller was unstoppable in the clutch, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter to decide the contest, which was tight over the last eight minutes and a one-possession game in the final minute. In addition to scoring, he contributed with rebounds and a key steal, and his ball-handling complemented Madriaga and Sapien.

“I feel great for our team coming from last year,” Miller said. “I saw our zone was shutting them down. Offensively, we were moving the ball and getting great shots.”

Miller led the Bulldogs with 17 points and Madriaga added 11. Trevor Fausto and Zain Safadi each scored six points. Lynbrook was led by Judah Marks with 12 points on four 3-pointers and the inside tandem of 6-foot-5 Harsha Kadiyala and 6-foot-3 Mrinal Dwivedi, each with nine points.

“We stopped their transition baskets and we shifted among a man, a 2-3, a 3-2, traps,” Tate said. “Anthony was great and Zain off the bench. Vince provided leadership and ball-handling. Trevor and Isaac came through. Trey played within himself and made plays within our offensive scheme. And his plays opened things up for Vince.”

The Vikings led by as many as 12 points by the midpoint of the second quarter. They were getting layups against the Sobrato full-court press and nailing three-pointers. Sobrato began chipping away at the deficit, closing the half with an 11-5 run sparked by two treys from Sapien. The scoreboard read 28-22 in favor of Lynbrook at the break.

Madriaga drained two triples in the third quarter as Sobrato outscored the Vikings 14-7 to grab a 36-35 lead by the end of the period. Reilly Hauck, Safadi, Fausto and Tracy were making big plays on both sides of the court. Tracy was crucial for the Bulldogs in contesting Lynbrook’s Kadiyala and Dwivedi inside.

The dramatic fourth quarter found Sobrato with a small lead but Lynbrook fighting back to tie with 2:30 remaining, on consecutive hoops from Kadiyala and Ethan Jin. With the score even at 45-45 at that point, Miller came through with the biggest shot of the day.

The Vikings couldn’t handle his drives or his side-to-side movement. They stepped back and thus the Bulldog senior coolly drained a three-pointer from the top of the circle for a 48-45 lead. The advantage would stand up. Fausto added a key 5-foot jumper and Miller sank two free throws as the Vikings resorted to fouling in the final minutes.

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