Dons’ Tratter Big Reason for Win
The De Anza Dons entered last Wednesday night’s tilt, with sister school Foothill College, as an apparent underdog. The Foothill Owls were 5-1, winning five games in a row, including the Shasta College Tournament championship.
Foothill, ranked #8 in the State of California, was clicking on all cylinders and just got back their starting point guard, who had been out with an ankle injury. The Dons were 1-2, coming off a victory over Skyline College. But almost two weeks in between games and a holiday break came at the wrong time as the De Anza basketball team was just starting to feel good. All signs pointed to a Foothill victory. But that is why the game is played.
Foothill got off to a hot start, scoring the first two baskets as the Dons seemed flustered early. A couple of quick De Anza scores evened the game and it would remain tight for most of the first half. The Owls seemed to get every break in the first half; they banked in two 3 point shots, as the shot clock was winding down and seemed to get every loose ball that the Dons had created with quick hands and deflections.
The Owls shot 4-8 from beyond the arc in the half. The Foothill lead ballooned to 15 points as the half was close to ending but a thundering put-back dunk by freshman forward Shaquille Gilbert and a mid-range jumper by sophomore Denzel Copeland closed the gap to 11. The half closed with the Owls on top 34-23.
The second half began with a Dons defensive flurry. Employing a full court trapping press, De Anza clawed its way back into the game. Playing at Foothill’s grinding, walk-it-up tempo, the Dons pounded the ball inside, getting it time and time again to freshman post Abu Tratter.
Tratter powered his way through the Foothill big men, requiring Foothill head coach Shannon Rosenberg, to switch defenders on Tratter in order to find someone who could guard him in the low post. Freshmen wing Deryck Ylanan came in off the bench to torch the Foothill defense with three 3 pointers and 13 total points, all in the second half. De Anza would close on Foothill and overtake the lead with just over 8 minutes to go.
On the defensive end, the Dons’ effort was stout as they held Foothill to 16 second half points, six of those coming in the final two minutes. Foothill would be held to 1 for 15 shooting from three point range in the second half.
Holding a 6 point lead, with 3 minutes left, De Anza was unable to completely shut the door on the Owls. Four consecutive De Anza possessions ended in three missed perimeter shots and a turn over. The Owls would close the lead to 1 point with under a minute remaining and gained possession of the ball with just over 20 seconds left.
Foothill took time out, set up an out of bounds play and managed to get a questionable foul call with 11 seconds left in the contest. The Owls’ Daryl Wong made both free throws, giving Foothill a one point lead.
The Dons calmly broke the Foothill press. With the ball in his hands, sophomore guard George Henderson niftily navigated the Foothill defense and dribbled into the paint where he dumped the ball off to Tratter who scored the lay-up in traffic.
With 3 seconds remaining, the Dons forced a turnover and a foul. Copeland would knock down the two free throws and secure De Anza’s 53-50 victory.
Deryck Ylanan led the Dons in scoring with 13 points. Abu Tratter had 12 points and 6 rebounds. George Henderson would finish the game with a well-rounded 8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.