Montgomery's half was bigger and better than Casa Grande's half Monday night as the Gaucho varsity boys basketball team lost a tough 54-48 decision in their home gym.
Casa Grande out scored the highly regarded visitors, 29-21, in the second half, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 33-19 Montgomery halftime advantage.
Statistically, the difference was at the foul line, where Montgomery hit 16 of 24 free throw attempts, while Casa Grande was just four of nine. The majority of the Viking free throws were well deserved and hard earned, the result of 6-foot, 5-inch Alec Raven and 6-foot, 7-inch Dakota Row aggressively taking the ball to the basket against the smaller and short-handed Gauchos.
Casa Grande played the game with its two most important inside men, 6-foot, 3-inch Kyle Kaupe and 6-foot, 6-inch Jon Christy both playing with the flu. To complicate the Gaucho problems, Christy got into early foul trouble with two quick personal calls and, by early on in the third period, three Casa starters were playing burdened by three fouls each.
Casa Grande scored the game's first points when Cetrick Yeanay picked up an errant Montgomery pass and drove home a basket just a few ticks into the game, but Row pushed his way inside for a pair of easy baskets, Montgomery scored the next eight points and the Gauchos trailed forever.
Kiel Long severely wounded the Gauchos when he hit a long 3-pointer just before the first round buzzer to put the Vikings back up by five (18-13) after the Gauchos had tied the game at 13-13, on a running drive by Yeanay, who had eight of their points in the period.
The second period was Casa Grande's undoing. The Gauchos had to work hard for shots for the entire game against the tenacious Montgomery defense, but in the second quarter couldn't hit the few good shots they did get. Casa had just six points in the period, four by Aaron Del Poggetto, and none over the period's final three minutes. Meanwhile, Row and Raven continued to work the Gauchos over underneath for easy baskets or foul-line opportunities. The result was the 14-point Montgomery intermission advantage.
Casa Grande played stronger defense underneath in the second half, and managed to get to within seven points on several occasions in the final period, but Montgomery was too accurate from the charity stripe to allow the Gauchos to ever creep closer until Yeanay dropped in three consecutive free throws in the final 15 seconds to make the final margin six. Montgomery was nine of 11 from the line in the final quarter.
Yeanay who, at times, was the only Casa Grande scoring weapon, finished with 20 points and still found time to pull down four rebounds and dish off four assists. No other Gaucho had more than five points, with Jake Ielmorini and Brycen Porach scoring five each. Christy, battling both fouls and the muscular Vikings underneath the boards, scored four points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Raven, who seemed to always come up with a critical Montgomery basket or free throw when it was most needed, led the Vikings with 19 points. Row scored 11, getting nine in the decisive first half. Noah Orik, scored eight of his 11 points at the free throw line, adding the other three on one hit from behind the arc.