Palo Alto clinched no worse than a share of the league title with a win Wednesday, but had to dig deep and give everything it had to do so.
The Vikings (18-4, 10-0) went to overtime to win at Milpitas 71-68, and now have a two-game lead with two games left in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division boys basketball season.
“They’re really good, they’re much better than a three-win team,’’ Palo Alto coach Jeff LaMere said of Milpitas (11-11, 3-7). “I’m as proud of our team as I’ve been after any game this season.’’
Milpitas, which showed an ability to knock down tough shots all game, took a 59-57 lead with 9.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter on two free throws by Lee Riddley, who scored a team-high 20 points. The Trojans then committed two intentional fouls to eat up time and bring their team total to six.
With 5.3 seconds left Paly called timeout and LaMere drew up a play the team hadn’t practiced. He had Matthew Marzano set a screen to get Ryan Purpur open. Will DeAndre delivered the inbounds pass to Purpur who laid it in to tie the score and send the game to overtime.
“I thought people would be paying attention to Marzano, so I used him as a decoy to get Purpur open,’’ LaMere said. “But you’ve still got to make the pass and make the shot.’’
Paly jumped out with an 8-2 run to start the extra period and was never headed.
Purpur finished with a career-high 27 points. Marzano added 21 and nine rebounds. Aidan Rausch scored 12 off the bench and pulled down 10 rebounds. Jamir Shepard also came off the bench and had six points and six rebounds.
Now Paly will try to clinch the outright De Anza championship with a win over second-place Los Altos Friday at home.
“We haven’t been in a lot of close games,’’ LaMere said. “To be able to pull that one out ... It’s hard to go undefeated. Right now I feel like we’re playing like an Open team.’’