Analy High School's flying Tigers quickly transitioned from a battle zone into a romp in the Sonoma County League Tournament Wednesday night, beating Petaluma's Trojans, 76-53.
Petaluma, seeded fourth in the four-team tournament, gave league champion Analy fits early, played them tough in the second period and were run out of hope in the second half.
Petaluma was still within catching distance of the Tigers at the end of the first half, trailing 37-28, but Analy blitzed the Trojans in the third period. With 6-foot, 10-inch sophomore Erik Poulsen and 6-foot, 6-inch Geddy Dukes vacuuming the backboards and Mohannad Halaweh flying toward the hoop, the Tigers time-after-time beat the slow-transitioning Trojans downcourt for easy baskets, keeping the scoreboard blinking through a 19-point third period.
Petaluma, determined and patient in the first half, became one-shot hopefuls in the second. A 3-point hit by Noah Forrey was the Trojans' only basket of the third quarter, and they further faltered by making just three of six free throws in the period.
By the end of the quarter, the count in the Tigers' favor was 56-38, and a slow-paced fourth period was played mostly because the rules require four quarters.
The second half was in sharp contrast to the crisp way the Trojans opened the game.
Augie Bundesen started the game for Petaluma with a mid-range jump shot connection. It was the start of an impressive game for the 6-foot, 1-inch senior, who not only battled the towering Tigers tough on the inside for a bundle of rebounds, but also contributed 10 points to the Petaluma scoring cause.
An inside hoop by Eric Hunsicker gave Petaluma a quick, 5-0 lead. Analy responded with an 8-0 run that included a spectacular one-handed slam by Halaweh, but the Trojans kept their composure, and when Jaymes Potts drove in a basket just before the first buzzer, they trailed just 16-13.
Analy put together a 10-point run midway through the second period to increase its lead to 15, but again the gutsy Trojans fought back. With Bundesen doing heavy duty work in the lane and Forrey and Potts providing free throw accuracy, the Trojans reached the midpoint still very much in the game, although trailing, 37-28.
Then came the second half and the Tigers' flight into the playoff finals.
Even as the Analy lead escalated, Swanson, who finished with 18 points, Bundesen, Hunsicker, Forrey, Potts and friends continued to battle, playing out the string on a season that produced just seven wins as opposed to 18 losses, but miles of improvement from start to finish. Over the second half of the SCL season, the Trojans were 3-3, playing their way into the post-season tournament.
Analy will play Healdsburg, a 63-57 winner over Piner, in the tournament finals Saturday night in an 8:30 p.m. game at Santa Rosa Junior College.
In the girls tournament, Healdsburg plays at Petaluma and Analy at Sonoma Valley tonight in the first round with the winners meeting at SRJC Saturday at 6 p.m.