They got to see a basketball triple-header, starting with the freshman boys taking a 50-20 win over Tracy High’s freshmen, and then saw the Kimball High and Tracy High sophomore teams compete down to the final buzzer in both the girls and boys games, with Tracy’s sophomore girls taking a 45-41 win in the closing seconds and Kimball’s sophomore boys clinging to a 42-41 win at the end.
The Kimball freshmen boys, already riding high with a first place finish in one tournament last month and a third place finish in another in their first season, were ready to play through their opening-night jitters.
“At the beginning I had butterflies. We all had butterflies,” freshman player Chandler Alves said. “We felt really excited for this game.”
“Especially against a rival team,” teammate Nathan Van Katwyk added.
“When we stepped onto that court, it was all brand new, new smell and everything. It was just amazing,” Alves said. “We all got pumped up.”
Sophomore player Tyrell Brewer said he was excited about the new gym, but rather than try to describe how he felt he figured the team could make its statement on the court.
“I’m just ready to do what we do normally, and give the fans a show,” he said. “Now we have our own gym, and we’re ready to play, and play hard.”
Up in the stands was the school’s namesake, Dr. John C. Kimball, who received a school letter jacket during a halftime ceremony. He couldn’t help but think of the people he knows who have schools named for them, and he was still getting used to the idea that he’s part of that elite club.
“I don’t know how to express it. I’m flattered, humbled, excited,” he said. “It’s overwhelming.”
Out in the lobby the booster club and the Kimball High Leadership group sold Jaguar gear to anyone who wanted to wear even more of the orange and blue.
Brittany Derby, selling the T-shirts commemorating the school’s inaugural year, said that the work leading up to Monday’s event started well before students went on break as they plastered signs around campus and produced even more banners to display in the gym on game night.
Fellow leadership student Aloukika Shah said that students picked up their school spirit on Monday, right as they had left it before they went on winter break, and brought it to a hometown crowd in the new gym.
“We knew it was a thorough transformation, so most of us were really excited,” she said.
“We finally have our first main facility where we have our first games,” Derby added.
Collette Baisa said and Diana Hinchman had been among the parents at the tables set up at all of the Jaguar home games, which until now had been at West High.
“I got here early so I could see the gym,” Baisa said, adding that she knew what the 15,400-square-foot gym, the largest in town, looked like, but didn’t get the full effect until she walked inside. “The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful gym.”
Meanwhile, on the court, the freshman boys added another win to bring their record to 9-1 for the season, while the sophomore teams played hotly contested games that brought Tracy and Kimball fans to their feet in the closing seconds.
Sophomore boys: Kimball 42, Tracy 41
Kimball coach Justin Gregory said his team seemed to be nervous on its first night on the new court, which may have kept some shots from falling. But the Jaguar defense held Tracy (4-8) back in the first half. That 20-17 lead at the half for Kimball (6-7) was the edge that the Jaguars needed for the win.
Tracy tied it up 28-28 at the end of the third and the Jaguars grabbed the lead at the start of the fourth when Beau Lawrence hit a three-point shot. Joe Walls scored seven more for Kimball in the fourth but Tracy closed in as Justin Phelps scored seven in the fourth quarter.
With the score 42-41 in Kimball’s favor, Tracy committed a series of fouls at the end in an attempt to get the ball back on rebounds. The Jaguars couldn’t make their free-throws, but once the Bulldogs got the ball back they just had one chance to score, and a missed shot ended the game as a win for Kimball.
Walls was the leading scorer for the Jaguars with 13 points, and Lawrence and Tyrell Brewer scored seven each. Ryan Black scored 12 for Tracy, Phelps scored nine and Matt Loscavio scored eight.
Sophomore girls: Tracy 45, Kimball 41
Tracy (9-4) started with an early lead, but Kimball (3-9) came through with some scoring drives to make it a close game to the end. Megan Bhathal put the Jaguars back in the game at the start of the second quarter on a string of shots.
The teams stayed within four points of each other until the start of the fourth, when Devereaux Gordon hit a couple three-pointers to push the Jaguars into the lead. Tracy edged ahead on a three-point shot from Mariah Serrato and took a 41-38 lead on a shot from Mika Mendoza before Gordon hit another three-pointer to tie it up again.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t let the Jaguars hang onto the ball in the final minute. Tracy twice stole the ball back before Kimball could drive back up the court, and Serrato made two more shots as the clock ran out to give Tracy a 45-41 lead at the end.
“We know that we’re both competitive and we’re both at the same level, so it made me work hard, and made our team push it during the last three minutes,” Serrato said.
Serrato scored 15 for Tracy and Ari Grimes scored 14. Bhathal scored 14 for the Jaguars and Gordon scored 11.
Freshman boys: Kimball 50, Tracy 20
If the Jaguars (9-1) suffered from opening night nerves they didn’t let it affect their game as Kimball charged out to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter and shut down the Tracy offense in the second for a 36-5 lead at the half.
The Jaguars pulled back a little in the second half, but Tracy (1-8) couldn’t get much closer to the host team. By the end of the game Kimball had 10 players score for their team.
Nathan Van Katwyk scored 11 for the Jaguars, Eli Hernandez scored 10 and Devante Baisa scored seven. Luke Hanna scored 11 for Tracy and Bruce Russell scored eight.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or email@example.com.