Casa Grande High School's Gauchos played one half of very good basketball in the Cardinal Newman gym Friday night. They played one quarter of very bad basketball and they played one quarter of very ugly basketball.
That pretty much sums up the Gauchos' 49-28 loss to the North Bay League-leading Cardinals.
Using a hustling, tenacious defense, Casa Grande played the normally high-scoring Cardinals to a standstill in the first half. With Kyle Kaupe and Jon Christy working hard inside and Cetrick Yeanay hitting a pair of jump shots under duress, Casa Grande reached the intermission trailing just 22-18.
Yeanay, who had 10 points in the game to account for more than a third of all Casa Grande's meager point production, put three baskets through the hoop in the first four minutes of the third quarter, but then things went bad for Casa Grande.
The Gauchos, under tough defensive pressure from the Cardinals, failed to score for the rest of the period. Cardinal Newman, blocked away from the basket in the first half, managed to get inside for either close bucket or free throws, and by the end of the quarter was in control, 37-24.
Things went from back to worse for the Gauchos in the final quarter, as they floundered through the period, not scoring until Miles Gardea and Drew Busse muscled inside for baskets in the final three minutes after the game had long-since been decided and reserves for both teams were on the court.
Cardinal Newman, meanwhile, took complete charge of the paint, scoring or drawing fouls seemingly at will and limiting Casa Grande to one try whenever the Gauchos did manage to get off a shot.
The raggedly played period featured much pushing and shoving, punctuated by a technical foul on the Casa player.
Cardinal Newman's second-half inside domination was punctuated by a 39-16 rebounding advantage.
Cory Hammel, a 6-foot, 6-inch, 210-pound mountain inside, led the Cardinals with 13 points, a total matched by quick guard Tim McCullough.
Earlier in the week, Casa Grande rallied too late, losing at home to Maria Carrillo, 51-42.
Maria Carrillo built a 26-16 halftime lead against the cold-shooting Gauchos, and extended its advantage to 43-28 at the end of three periods, before Casa Grande rallied to get close at the end.
Yeanay hit five 3-point shots and scored 19 points for the Gauchos. Busse added 10 points. John Aitchison led Maria Carrillo with 16 points.
Casa Grande is now 11-10 overall and 3-6 in North Bay League play. The Gauchos make their longest trek of the league season Friday, traveling to Ukiah.