After dispatching Tomales, 49-36, in a rivalry game marred by rough play at DeCarli Gym on Friday, the St. Vincent Mustangs immediately move on to battle for first place on Tuesday. looking for their seventh consecutive victory. The Mustangs will face conference co-leader Rincon Valley Christian in a showdown contest to determine the first round leader in the North Central League II.
The Mustangs bolted to a 20-5 lead over the visiting Braves midway through the first period, and were never headed in a contest that featured four technical fouls and two intentional foul calls. There were several other plays that might have been whistled as intentional when player injury was narrowly avoided.
On several occasions, players from both teams crashed into each other causing hard falls onto the hardwood. The officials did a creditable job whistling fouls and isolating the ones that were unnecessarily physical.
Mustang forward Zack Pierson was oblivious to the activity underneath the hoop as he accounted for eight points in the first half when St. Vincent took complete command of the contest. Pierson scored on drives to the right side of the basket as he knifed through the softer side of the Tomales zone defense.
From the outside Alex Neve found the range from behind the arc, and kept the Brave defense honest with three shots from downtown to finish with 14 for the contest.
Senior forward Mitch Sheppard was able to move around the edge of a packed-in defense to mix up his shots and keep the Braves from coming back to make a contest of it. Sheppard wound up leading the Mustangs with 16 points.
Tomales was completely cold from the floor, and could get nothing going until the second half. Tomales kept chopping away at the Mustang lead, and finally chips began to fly in the third stanza. The Braves whittled the Mustang advantage to 37-29 early in the fourth period.
Muscular Anthony Feliciano, held scoreless in the first half, found the range after the intermission, and banged in 10 points with moves close to the basket.
The smoothest Brave on the floor was sophomore Joel Gutierrez. The slender forward relentlessly drove inside with mixed results, but wound up with 11 points to pace Tomales. Gutierrez had two baskets waved off for walking violations en route to the basket where the play got very physical.
St. Vincent wound up converting seven shots from distance to hold off the Braves. Cold shooting Evan Knight, having an off night from the floor, finally rung in a 3-pointer as the host outscored Tomales, 17-15, in the final quarter.
Things get even more serious for the charging forces of coach Lance Phillips when they host Rincon Valley on Tuesday. The two teams have a competitive history dating back to last season when they tied for the league crown.
St. Vincent has played much better since the return of Knight from the ranks of the injured as Phillips predicted in December. ""We will be tougher in our league when we get to full strength and get that outside shooting that Evan brings," he said at the Cloverdale tourney.