The gym was silent on Tuesday night, as the Spartans took on the Saratoga Falcons in a rematch of a tournament game earlier in the season. Normally, the Sixth Man Club fights to encourage the home team, but tonight, they would be fighting something else.
For the entirety of the first half, the members of the Sixth Man Club wore duct tape, labeled “ADMIN,” over their mouths and watched the game in silence. The goal was to protest the MVHS administration’s recent response to cheering at a home game against Palo Alto on January 8th, where two students were ejected from the game for what administration believed to be disorderly behavior.
“I could tell,” said starting center Brian Kaestner, regarding the crowd, “it felt like I was playing in awkward silence.”
The team as a whole seemed to share the same feeling as Kaestner. Playing sloppy defense, giving up a number of offensive rebounds, and struggling to score, the Spartans were lucky to only find themselves only down 27-20 at half.
It wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that senior Nick Wang hit a pull up jumper from the top of the key and the Sixth Man Club members removed the tape and began to cheer.
“It finally felt like a real basketball game,” Kaestner said.
With the support of the crowd finally behind them, the Spartans changed their game completely. A newfound aggressiveness in the paint propelled the Spartans on a 6-0 run that tied the game at 31-31. Mountain View maintained their impressive 3rd quarter play and found themselves with the first lead of the night at 37-35.
Yet, the 4th quarter never went the Spartans’ way as they fell behind early, subject to impressive play by Saratoga’s center Steve Berman, who dominated the game all night. With less than a minute to go, it became obvious it wasn’t the Spartans’ night when the Falcons hit a three-pointer off the glass as the shot clock expired, putting the Spartans behind 54-49. Wang hit a three-pointer at the end to make the game interesting, but the Spartans weren’t able to rally and lost by a final score of 55-54.
Despite the loss on the Spartans’ record, the game was a win for the Sixth Man Club that was able to effectively validate their importance.
“I think we were able to demonstrate that we are a vital part to the success of any team,” senior Matt Munoz, president of the Sixth Man Club, said. “When we were silent in the first half, it didn’t seem like the guys were very into it, but when we started cheering the guys felt like they could make plays and win the game.”
The 6-0 run that the Spartans made immediately after the cheering began is hard to argue with, and Munoz hopes that the club and the MVHS administration are able to reach and agreement that won’t limit that possibility for teams in the future.
Because as Munoz points out, “when we believe, they believe.”