A Houdini act by Elsie Allen's magical Angel Sanchez prevented the Petaluma High School boys basketball team from putting together is first winning streak of the season Monday night.
After an impressive 68-62 homecourt win over El Molino last Friday, the first victory in Sonoma County League play for the Trojans, Petaluma came within an eyeblink of making it two in a row Monday evening at Elsie Allen in Santa Rosa before Sanchez swished a 3-pointer just a breath before the final buzzer to give the homestanding Lobos an improbable 54-53 victory.
First league win
Noah Forrey led Petaluma to its first Sonoma County League win, scoring 16 points to lead the Trojans to a come-from-behind win over El Molino. Seven of the senior guard's points came in the fourth quarter when Petaluma had one of its best periods of the season with 20 points.
It was overall perhaps Petaluma's best offensive game of the season. After falling behind, 18-14, in the opening period, Petaluma scored 20 second-quarter points to slip in front, 34-29, at the half. Going into the final period, the game was tied 48-48. Led by Forrey, the Trojans took charge in the decisive final period.
Clay Swanson and Eric Hunsicker each scored 14 for the Trojans.
Louie Rampone led El Molino with 20, with Jesse Fischman adding 16.
At Elsie Allen Monday night, the Trojans completely out played the Lobos in the first half, building a 32-22 halftime lead behind the inside domination of Hunsicker and Augie Bundesen.
Things turned dramatically in the third quarter when Elsie Allen scored the first nine points of the half to slice the Petaluma lead to one at 32-31. The Trojans, bothered by the Elsie Allen press, still managed to hold on to the lead until the closing moments of the period when sophomore Jalen Busby twice worked inside for easy baskets that gave Elsie Allen its first lead at 46-45 as the fourth period dawned.
Although there was little scoring, just seven points for each team, that quarter was about as wild as prep basketball gets.
With the 15 fans in the Elsie Allen rooting section and an equal number of Petaluma parents sounding more like hundreds, the teams contested for every shot, pass and rebound.
It looked as though Petaluma had survived when Swanson battled to hit a short jump shot from about 4-feet distant with just 10.6 seconds left to put the Trojans in front, 53-51.
There was only 9.8 seconds remaining when Elsie called time.
With everyone in the gym, and probably a few folks in the parking lot, knowing that the ball was going to Sanchez, the senior still managed to get the ball and, working off a well-designed screen, hit nothing but net from just beyond the 3-point arc as time expired.
Hunsicker, who at times dominated the backboards, had a strong game for the Trojans, scoring 16 points. Swanson was a threat driving and firing for the Petalumans, adding 15. He counted three 3-point shots, hitting from beyond the arc to start both the first and second periods.
Sophomore Busby came off the bench to help Elsie Allen even up play underneath the basket, especially in the second half and finished with 19 points. Sanchez, under intense defensive pressure from Forrey the entire game, still managed to score 15.