The parking lot filled up quickly on Friday night as a stream of students dressed in red, white and blue poured into the Redwood gym to cheer on the varsity basketball teams for a USA themed, ASB sponsored “Game Night.” The Redwood student section went wild as the girls’ varsity basketball team secured a 57-26 victory, and the crowd’s intensity remained just as high when the boys’ team ran onto the court to begin warming up for their match up against the Drake Pirates.
At 7:30 p.m., after announcing the starting lineups for each boys’ varsity team, the players got in position for the tip-off, and the game began. Drake scored the first two baskets, making the score 4-0 and ensuring that the night’s game would be a close competition.
By the end of the first quarter, Redwood pulled ahead slightly with a lead over Drake of 10-6. According to head coach Steve Compagno, the boys’ main goal was to play tight defense against the Pirates, and junior Scott Matthews echoed that sentiment.
“Everyone did a good job on the defensive end, pressuring and getting our hands up and getting out on shooters,” Matthews said.
The game was also intense from a physical standpoint. With five minutes left in the second quarter, senior Alex Diaz committed his second foul against Drake’s Jahshua Burke, sending him to the free throw line. Two minutes later, the Pirates were at the line once again, making one free-throw to bring the score to 17-15, with Redwood barely hanging on to their lead. Junior Brandon Radu responded with a three-point basket, which sparked a hot streak for the Giants going into halftime. At the end of the second quarter, Redwood held a 25-17 lead, the highest lead of the game thus far.
Following both teams’ cheerleaders performing their halftime routines, leadership student junior Greg Dachtler began shooting t-shirts into Redwood’s eager student section. This was one of the tactics leadership employed to get students to come to game night, the goal being to increase school spirit.
ASB president, senior Eamon Rogan, explained how the leadership class purposefully chooses exciting games for game night.
“We choose [game night] based on rivalry games. We try to [pick] a game where the other school will show up too because we want there to be a good atmosphere,” Rogan said. “We’re trying to achieve a tighter community. We want to support the sports teams at our school and game night’s a good way to do that. It gets the whole school spirited and brings people together for a better community.”
Compagno believes that game nights have the ability to bring the school together and also have a positive effect on the players themselves.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and when the stands are packed, it energizes our players. It’s all about the student body being here. It’s fun, it’s Friday night, we’ve got to get them out here every time we play,” Compagno said.
Junior Miles Squires explained how the team’s energy is amplified by the crowd’s intensity on a game night.
“We were so excited. Everybody in the locker room looks outside the door and sees everybody in the stands and it just means everything to us and gets us really prepared,” Squires said.
ASB’s idea of shooting shirts into the crowd served its purpose of getting Redwood fans excited for the second half. When the third quarter began, the student section was even more electrified than at tip-off.
With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, junior Chance Farrell-Martin stole the ball from a Drake player, broke away towards the basket, and was fouled, sending him to the line. He made both his free-throws and brought Redwood’s lead to a comfortable ten points with the score at 33-23. At the end of the third, the Giants were winning 39-28.
In the fourth quarter, Redwood began to pull away with a larger lead. The Giants’ fan section went wild as the clock wound down with Redwood winning by 13 points. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard flashed 47-34 as students poured onto the court to congratulate the team.
According to junior Jake Mathews, the Pirates were tough competition but Redwood’s offense found a successful way to work around that.
“Our shooters did a really crafty job of getting open, and although Drake’s defense was helping really well, we were getting into the paint and tracking a lot of attention and then kicking it out for threes,” Mathews said.
Although Tuesday’s game against Tam ended with Tam’s student section destroying three rows of Redwood’s bleachers, principal David Sondheim said he was proud of the way that the student section had conducted themselves on Friday night.
“Our students tonight were great. Their cheers were overwhelmingly positive and they know how the take the high road. They understand that when you come to a game, you’re coming to cheer on the players, the cheerleaders and the school,” Sondheim said. “Game night help bring us together. We’re rooting for each other with our presence and with our voices, and we’re coming together for each of us.”