Walnut staff falls to Diamond Bar staff in annual friendly basketball game

Walnut High School staff lost to Diamond Bar staff 47-49 during a rivalry basketball fundraiser game Thursday, Nov. 7 at home. 

The purpose of the game was to raise funds for the 2019-2020 Walnut Boys Basketball program. With the funds, the team is able to purchase new equipment, compete in tournaments, pay for bus fees and improve the program overall.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of the staff to come together and to bond and just create memories like we did yesterday,” Head Certified Athletic Trainer Faith Villanueva said. “It’s a true testament to the Walnut way, seeing everybody come out and support each other.”

Diamond Bar started off the first quarter with a two-point shot, but multiple fouls led Grade Level Coordinator Nathan Newman to score the first 3-pointer. The Brahmas were able to keep up with multiple free throw attempts and 3-pointers. Later on, health teacher and basketball coach Joe Khouzam made three more points for the Mustangs after getting fouled outside the 3-point line. In the last 20 seconds, Duy Tran made the final 3-pointer for the Mustangs, ending the first quarter 9-11.

“I think it was tough. They had great shooters and were great players. We were doing well but we were behind the whole first half,” Spanish teacher Gabriel Hernandez said. “Since we don’t play together all the time, it’s difficult to know where we’re going to move and what plays they want to execute.”

Diamond Bar started off the second quarter by making multiple 3-pointers in the first minute. Walnut’s offense struggled in the first two minutes until computer science instructor Nick Blackford scored the first two points for the Mustangs. Later on, Walnut was able to catch up due to many steals, turnovers and free throws made by the Mustangs. Villanueva shot a 3-pointer along with Hernandez, Newman, Khouzam and Conrad White who added to the score by shooting multiple 2-pointers, ending the quarter 25-28.

“When I first let go [of my shot], I thought oh, no, that’s short and then I saw it go in and it was wet and then I said ‘NO WAY LET’S GO!’” Villanueva said. “The [result] was that it changed the momentum of the game. The fact that I did that is just beyond me.”

In the second half, Khouzam and varsity basketball coach Jerome Anderson led Walnut scoring 15 points after 3-point shots and many free throws. Diamond Bar scored ahead of Walnut after multiple two and 3-pointers. Walnut stayed in the game after many rebounds and steals from Principal Ryan Maine. In the final minute, Newman and White were able to get the Mustangs tied after a shot. However, Diamond Bar drew three fouls and scored two free throws out of seven attempts from the line. The Mustangs were unable to secure a win and ended the game 47-49.

“It was a great night for the whole community,“ Khouzam said. “A lot of parents from both schools [came] out. We had a lot of people. Alumni came in to see their old teachers, so I think it was a fun night to bring the whole community together before the basketball season starts.”

By Samuel Au and Freda Lei, Staff writers
Photo by Isaac Le