Scotts Valley High sophomore Will Shilling and the boys’ basketball team were soaring sky-high heading into the final stretch of the league season.
The Falcons extended their win streak to three following a crushing 66-39 win over Harbor High in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action on Tuesday evening.
The standout guard finished with a game-high 25 points, including six 3-pointers for Scotts Valley, which came out to a blazing fast start that got them motivated from the get-go.
“I think we just kind of let the shots come to us and that kind of let the game do itself,” Shilling said.
Shilling mentioned that he wasn’t looking to get any more shot attempts than he normally would, yet his teammates managed to set him up so he could knock them down with ease.
“I just kept going, once I made one I just was feeling it,” Shilling said.
Fellow sophomore teammate Taylor Knox had 15 points and senior Tristan Roure finished with 10 points for the Falcons, who are still in the mix to earn a Central Coast Section playoff berth.
Aptos and Santa Cruz were sitting atop of the SCCAL standings with an 8-1 record in league play going into this week’s season finale. If both teams win out, then it would come down to a coin toss to determine the top seed in the league tournament that is set to begin Feb. 7.
However, if Scotts Valley (12-11, 5-4) can beat Aptos in Thursday’s regular season finale, then that would bump the Mariners down to No. 2 seed.
The Falcons would earn the No. 3 seed and Soquel is given the No. 4 seed.
“If we win, it ruins everything,” said Scotts Valley coach Gabe Gonzales. “So, we’re the ones in the driver’s seat, we just gotta win. But Aptos, they’re tough.”
Shilling said the win on Tuesday was still huge for them and a possible victory against Aptos would solidify them a third place finish in the league standings. The Mariners edged the Falcons, 47-44, in the teams’ first meeting Jan. 17.
“Now we get our payback,” Shilling said.
The standout sophomore guard said they’ll have to head into the season finale with the same energy and intensity similar to Tuesday’s game against Harbor.
“Come out motivated and try to get that win,” he said.
Gonzales believes this year’s Falcons squad is a loose group but the big issue with that is they can play at the level of their competition.
“Sometimes it’s disappointing, sometimes it’s great,” Gonzales said. “I pull my hair out sometimes, too. I love them, though.”
A trip to the CCS postseason is within reach for the Falcons. Shilling said it would be a big milestone for them, especially after the way they started off a little rough.
“To end on a good note, that would be pretty fun,” he said.
As a team, they got in sync and began playing together as a group. They stopped relying on one person and leaned on each other when it came down to the rough patches.
“We were just trying to do everything ourselves individually,” Shilling said. “Once we got all in sync and started playing as a team, that’s really what got us firing. Gotta trust each other.”
Gonzales said that Shilling stepped in as the rock of the team when Roure was sidelined with an injury.
The first-year skipper spoke with Shilling following a game against San Lorenzo Valley where he finished with 11 points after scoring nine in the first quarter.
Since then, Shilling has been all over the court and playing especially better on the defensive side.
Gonzales wants his quiet young leader to become more aggressive because he believes that Shilling has those qualities of becoming one of the best players in the SCCAL.
“Will’s been there,” Gonzales said. “Will, though, needs to believe he can play ball.”
Shilling continues to build his confidence level, which has also rubbed off on his teammates because the Falcons are soaring high at this point.
“The team does believe that we can be in any game,” Gonzales said. “Our strategy is to keep the game close and hope that we can pull it out at the end. The issue is that Aptos does the same thing…they find ways to win down the stretch and we’re learning to be there. It’s going to be a good one, I think.”