When the season began in November, Palisades High boys varsity basketball coach Donzell Hays admitted his team’s success would depend on how hard it practiced and how much it improved.
The Dolphins took their lumps early on, dropping six of their first 10 games, but since returning from Winter Break they have played like a team worthy of consideration for an Open Division playoff berth.
An example of how far Palisades has come is last Thursday’s contest versus nationally-ranked Fairfax, which routed the Dolphins by 46 points in the teams’ previous meeting. This time, on its home court and in front of its own fans, Palisades stayed within striking distance for three quarters in a 67-56 defeat.
Graham Alphson led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Dylan Griffin had nine points, four assists and three rebounds and Nick Kerkorian added seven points.
The Dolphins traveled east to Hamilton the next night and were in command from the start, building a 16-point lead at halftime and a 32-point bulge after three quarters. Alphson scored 24 points, Justin Haynes had 11 and Caden Arnold added seven.
Palisades needed to win its last three regular season games versus Venice (twice) and University to clinch third place in the tough Western League.