Sunnyslope’s David Faces Perry’s Goliath


Photo by Grace Lawrence

Asher Taghizadeh


The 100 years war, a war akin to both world wars, was a tale of bitter rivals, Britain and France, trying to gain control of Europe.
While many battles were spectacular, one stands out for the British.
The year: 1415. Young King Henry V keeps watch of his army who sit in disciplined silence watching the large French army prematurely celebrate their presumed victory at Agincourt. Henry, though, had other plans.
Henry’s tactics and his army’s fortitude withstood the large French attacks eventually scoring a decisive victory for the English.
This incredible feat draws comparisons to the Sunnyslope Vikings Basketball team who Saturday March 4 will be led into battle by Head Coach Ray Portela at the coliseum against the mighty Perry Pumas.
Many would call the run remarkable considering that the are relatively inexperienced with two freshmen on the starting lineup.
The focused and prepared Vikings look to avenge their defeat earlier in the season by achieving the ultimate prize- the first ever open division championship.
This matchup, though, will be incredibly different; the defeat occurred when Star Freshmen Rider Portela and John Mattingly were still trying to figure out how to play with Junior Jai Anthony Bearden.
Going into this matchup, the Vikings are a more cohesive team as seen by their ten game winning streak.
This goal also becomes more due to masterful coaching by Portela whose adroit tactics and fierce leadership have helped the Vikings reach the promised land three times before.
Perry, the defending champions, though, are an extremely tough opponent led by Five Stars Cody Williams and Koa Peat; in fact, Williams, brother of NBA Rookie Jalen Williams, is projected to go second in the 2024 NBA draft while Peat has amassed 15 offers from schools like Kansas, Texas, and UCLA.
Although Perry has extreme firepower, they have faltered as of recent with tournament opponents being able to hang with them, something that was unheard of to start the season.
Portela attributed the team’s brotherhood to their success.
“This is one of the tightest groups I think I have ever coached. They’re willing to make the extra pass and willing to help each other defensively,” said Portela.
Bearden, a transfer student, shared a similar sentiment.
“I started to see that the team was a brotherhood which I really fell in love with” said Bearden.
The team bonded and began to realize their championship aspirations after a rough stretch of games in early January.
“We lost to Perry and then Pinnacle back to back which is something that the program doesn’t do, so seeing them respond the way they did against Liberty was a good marker for the team,” said Portela.
Bearden agreed on the profound effect the losses had.
“After those back to back L’s, the coach said that if we want to win we won’t lose and now we’ve won ten straight,” said Bearden.
The confidence can be seen in the way the players are approaching the championship game.
“It’s gonna be a dog fight, but I know if we play our hardest we can beat anybody,” said Bearden.
Even though they are considered underdogs, the team does not view it that way.
“It’s like we’re playing with house money. We really don’t think about seeds. Each day on this run we just talked about how we could get better,” said Portela.
Even though they got to the biggest stage, the team feels they still need to silence some doubters.
“Deep down I wanted this matchup [with Perry] because I knew that, if we beat the best team, nobody could say anything about us,” said Freshman Christian Simmons.
Whatever happens on Saturday, the Vikings will be proud of what they accomplished and excited for the future.
“The future is bright,” said Simmons.