Varsity boys basketball team celebrates senior night against King’s Academy


Kinnera Mulam

The celebrated seniors, their families and coaches line up for a picture after the senior night ceremony. 15 minutes later, the game against King’s Academy began.

by Kinnera Mulam, Copy Editor

“Defense! Defense! Defense!”

Thunder rumbles through the quaking bleachers in the Athletics Center as the crowd stomps their feet, hoots and cheers escaping them. The squeaking of basketball shoes pierces through the uproar as the varsity boys basketball team jostles with their opponents and sprints across the court. They score point after point, causing the cheer squad to erupt into numerous chants and routines.

The team celebrated senior night on Feb. 11 during their home game against the King’s Academy Lions at 5:30 p.m, which they lost 44-53.

As families, teachers and students entered the Zhang Gymnasium, the team warmed up for fifteen minutes. Once everyone settled down, the underclassmen and junior players lined up on the sidelines for the senior night ceremony.

Keller announced the names of the seniors celebrated — center Vedant Kenkare, co-captain Charles Ding, shooting guard Andrew Chen, power forward John Zeng and team managers Kaden Kapadia and Ayan Nath — and their number of years on the team as the seniors walked down through two lines of cheerleaders, accompanied by friends and family. Each player received a bouquet of flowers and a garland from a younger teammate. Posters for each senior, crafted by both friends and teammates, hung on the walls around the gym.

“My favorite part about senior night is being with my friends and seeing all the posters that the underclassmen made,” Charles said. “We played really well compared to our last few games, and it might be because of the general energy and vibe among the team since it was really great to see everyone in the audience cheering.”

In the first quarter, Harker scored four points in the first five minutes, but King’s Academy slowly pulled ahead, ending the quarter with a 6-15 lead. Point guard Bowen Xia (9) attributes the team’s electric start to the energy of the crowd.

“Coming in, we were definitely the underdogs since last time we lost by around 30 points,” Bowen said. “When we started, I was kind of surprised to be holding close to them in the game and that was definitely owed to the crowd.”

The Eagles closed the King’s Academy lead to 23-29 by the end of the first half, during which each team called a timeout, both towards the end of the quarter.

Capitalizing on their momentum, the Eagles scored 16 points to King’s Academy’s 14 in the third quarter, bringing the score to 39-43 in favor of the Lions. King’s Academy called one time-out during the quarter, while Harker called two, during which varsity basketball coach Butch Keller offered encouraging advice to the Eagles.

The Eagles’ valiant effort came up short in the final quarter. With five minutes left in the game, the team was down 41-45. Co-team captain Abhi Namala (11) and shooting guard Kevin Zhang (10) converted three free throws in the remaining time, but King’s Academy prevailed, tacking on eight more points for a 44-53 victory.

For their next game, Charles hopes the team can improve on their spacing. Meanwhile, Bowen sets a personal goal to limit his turnovers.

“As a team, we played really well since everyone did what they were supposed to do,” Bowen said. “On a personal level, I really need to work on my turnovers and taking care of the ball. In this game, I had two turnovers that really could have changed the outcome of the game.”

Players noted that the crowd lifted their team’s spirits despite the loss and spurred them on, especially since this game had the largest audience turnout all season. Various members of the audience held up signs displaying slogans such as “Kenkare, you slay” and “Go seniors!” Additionally, cheerleaders performed at halftime and cheered after the team scored particularly difficult points and during timeouts.

“We always hope to bring a lot of spirit,” cheerleader Anaya Mandal (10) said. “Since there’s such a big crowd today, we just want to hype everyone up and make sure the team knows they’re appreciated.”