Varsity boys basketball pays tribute to Kobe Bryant in game against South Hills

Varsity boys basketball defeated South Hills in its Lakers-themed home league game Wednesday, Jan. 29.

To honor former Lakers player Kobe Bryant, spectators were encouraged to wear purple and gold. Players from both schools also wore Lakers gear during warm-up. 

“I felt not so much sadness, but admiration and respect for [Kobe],” captain and point guard senior Caleb Santos said. “He was bigger than himself — he did a lot for his community and Los Angeles, and [the tribute] was a sign of respect. It shows how one person can impact the whole world and bring people together.”

Prior to the game, both the Mustangs’ and Huskies’ point guards took 35-second and 10-second backcourt violations respectively, resembling the National Basketball Association’s tribute to Bryant. In addition, Bryant was commemorated with a moment of silence.

“It’s tragic when anybody dies in their prime, and [Bryant] was way too young to die,” history teacher Drew Johannsen said. “He just got started developing a part of his legacy that wasn’t basketball. If he had his way, we would remember him for a lot more than basketball — being a good father, being a philanthropist, trying to help people outside of sports and in sports — but he’s mostly going to be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players. That will be his legacy.” 

Walnut took an early lead in the first half of the game, as forward senior Isa Al Juraishi scored 17 points and point guard senior Caleb Santos scored 12 points. During halftime, varsity boys led 33-24. In the second half, the Mustangs sustained their lead, with point guard freshman Malik Khouzam scoring nine points, and triumphed against the Huskies 66-53.

“We played really well; once we get on the floor, we focus on basketball,” varsity coach Joe Khouzam said. “I felt like my players knew what they had to do. It was a league game, so they took care of business.”

By Emily Cao, Staff writer
Photo by Tristan Gonzalez