Jose Montalvan has coached plenty of games in his career, none were more important than Friday night. Friday night was his first time ever coaching varsity basketball. Not only did he pass the test and come out on top, it was clear his team responded well. The Credo Gryphon knew how important it was to give Coach a win in his first game and so they did.
Tali Stopek scored 24 of the 48 Gryphon points in route to a 48-32 victory over Sonoma Academy. The Gryphon upped their record to 12-9 in the process.
The Gryphon busted out of the gates like NHRA race cars, leading by 10 points after the first quarter. After a somewhat sloppy second, the Gryphon played well in the second half to pull away in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve coached many games, this was just my first varsity game,” Montalvan said. “It’s all just basketball. These guys have the talent, you just got to put them in position to win and that’s what I did.”
Game planning for Sonoma Academy wasn’t easy for Montalvan, as they play a wide-open zone that extends out to almost half court. The zone includes built in traps in the corner and sideline. The Gryphon came out prepared for it and found ways to score as the game went on. Coach said the key was off ball movement from the five man or center position.
“Our game plan was attack the middle,” Montalvan said. “They were in a wide-open zone; we attacked the middle with our big men. I sent my five to the free-throw line and he just worked it all evening.”
The key moment for the Gryphon came in the third quarter when the Coyotes were making their push. Stopek was the man who singlehandedly kept the Coyotes at bay. Stopek has been the Gryphons top scorer all season and he’s the guy the team goes to if they need buckets. They needed buckets Friday night and Stopek delivered.
Since the Coyotes were in a press the whole game, it was crucial for the Gryphon to be calm under pressure. The guards did a wonderful job breaking the press and staying relatively calm.
“Satchel did an incredible job on defense, it was his job to guard number 20 most of the game,” Montalvan said. “He ended up fouling out because we required he played denial defense on number 20. When he came out, we had Kai playing incredible defense. I just can’t pinpoint one player, they played like an incredible team.”
The Gryphon got points from every player who stepped on the court Friday night, which is an incredible achievement. Everyone scoring showed that the role players did their job. Every team has a star or two, but to win everyone has to do their part. Montalvan made sure to emphasize this in his post-game interviews. He wanted to give all the players equal praise because it truly was a team effort.
Coach Montalvan also came up with a new motto for the Gryphon. It’s an easy three step plan for them to play by each game.
“What I told my guys in the locker room is we have to go back to basics,” Montalvan said. “The first basic is fun, then we want to play fast and play mistake free and if we can combine the three then we should be in good shape.”
The Gryphon will hope to keep their momentum going Wednesday against Roseland University Prep, who are the current leaders of the North Central II League.