Petaluma High School’s Trojans posted a no-speeding zone on their home court Friday night and enforced it with a non-stop ball-hawking patrol to frustrate Piner’s varsity Prospectors, 52-41, in a key Sonoma County League boys game.
The win was badly needed by the Trojans, who are now 2-1 in league endeavors after losing their first game at Healdsburg. The Trojans could ill afford another league loss as they attempt to stay close to league unbeatens Analy and Healdsburg.
The loss hurt to the talented Prospectors, now 0-3 in league.
“We did a good job with our zone defense,” Petaluma coach Scott Behrs said. “They are too fast for us to play man-to-man, but we did a good job with our zone.”
Petaluma also shot well, hitting 14 of 32 efforts from 2-point range to offset 3-of-12 shooting from behind the arc. The Trojans were a blistering 9 of 11 from the foul line.
Petaluma was led by the inside-outside combination of Joey Potts and Austin Paretti. Potts was aggressive in the paint, frustrating Piner drive attempts and scoring 13 points.
Guard Paretti, eschewing his normal long-range shooting for a newly displayed runner that floated over the straining arms of rim-protecting Piner defenders, also counted 13 for the Trojans, with eight coming on those short runner shots.
Colin Stremlau, who has developed into one of the Trojans’ most consistent players, chipped in nine points, while Devin Gottschall came hustling off the bench to provide inside muscle and seven points.
Petaluma received a boost from St. Vincent High transfer Trey Davis. In his first game since becoming eligible with the new year, the junior guard displayed strong ball handling and the potential to be a good scoring threat. He tallied six points in limited playing time and had two shots drop almost below the rim before spinning out.
Behrs noted that the Trojans had a successful game plan that was well executed. “It was nice to see us put a plan into practice,” he explained.
Petaluma controlled the tempo from the outset, hustling back in transition to quickly establish its zone, and working patiently on offense to get high-percentage paint shots or short jumpers.
There was little to choose between the two teams early, with Petaluma reaching the end of the period with a 14-13 lead, largely through the inside work of Potts and Jack Anderson, who had five points in the period.
Petaluma vigorously enforced its zone defense in the second quarter, limiting Piner to just two points on a basket by Scott Erickson. The Prospectors got few decent looks against the arm-waving Trojans and missed the few good looks they had.
On the other end of the court, Potts slammed home a dunk and Stremlau punctuated the decisive period with one of just three Trojan long-range connections to give Petaluma a 26-15 halftime lead.
Although super soph Erickson and teammate Andros Barragan, each with 13 points in the game, were able to pick up the Prospectors’ scoring in the second half, they were no match for Paretti, Potts and the Petalumans, who won going away.
Highlights of late-game bench play for Petaluma was continued strong work inside by Gottschall and the ball handling and a jump-shot connection by Whitaker Ellis.
Piner won the junior varsity game, 56-45.