Casa Grande High School's Gauchos quite literally hit on all cylinders Monday night in a 76-40 thumping of Rancho Cotate's overmatched Cougars. Every player on the Casa Grande roster scored and every player had at least one rebound.
The win was hugely important for the Gauchos, who not only improved their overall record to 14-10, but also became eligible for the North Coast Section playoffs. Casa is now 6-6 in North Bay League play and needs a win at home over Santa Rosa to earn a spot in the league playoffs that goes to the top four finishers.
Casa Grande came out focused and intense on their home court Monday night and ended firing and grinning as benches cleared and everyone had a chance to not only play, but participate, in the funfest.
"It is always big to get everyone in the game," said Casa Grande coach James Forni. "We've been in some tough games, and we haven't had many opportunities to give everyone a shot."
Kyle Kaupe, although playing only limited minutes, led Casa Grande with 20 points and also pulled down 11 rebounds and made three steals. Jake Ielmorini just missed a triple double with 12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. He also had a crowd-energizing one-handed slam. Aaron Dal Poggetto, always one of the first off the bench for the Gauchos, chipped in 11 points.
Also on the scoring list were Cetrick Yeanay with six, Daniel Greisen with five, Jordan Porter with four, Jack Micco with three, Tyler Nadolski with two, Brycen Poarch with 20, Miles Gardea with four, Drew Busse with three and Jon Christy with four.
Casa Grande opened blistering hot, hitting its first six straight shots before a drive came up a millimeter short and slipped off the front of the rim. Kaupe was unstoppable. He hit his first five baskets, and after the first four minutes of the game, had already scored 10 points.
"I want to make my first shot of the game and get started right," he said. "I do get in the zone sometimes."
The only thing that got him out of the zone Monday was his coach, who began removing starters before his Gauchos had built a 25-8 first-quarter lead.
Another early star for the Gauchos was Ielmorini, who hit three 3-pointers and a long two before the first half had expired with Casa leading, 41-16.
Rancho Cotate's only points in the second period came on a pair of long 3-point hits by Alec Wong. The 5-foot, 6-inch freshman was a dynamo the entire game for the Cougars and finished with nine points. Ryan Sousa, a junior who will also be back for the Ranch in what promises to be a better next season, led the visitors with 14.
Second-half highlights, as both benches cleared, were Ielmorini's one-hand slam in the third period and impressive play by the Gauchos' bench as everyone managed to mark the scorebook. Daniel Greisen was especially impressive with a 3-point connection and a strong drive for another bucket.