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Petaluma tops Healdsburg in OT to reach SCL Tournament final

It is a difficult process to get through Healdsburg these days, but traversing that city’s construction-marred main street was nothing compared to the trouble the Petaluma boys basketball team had on the road to the Sonoma County League Tournament championship game that ran through the Healdsburg High School gymnasium last week.

Petaluma’s Trojans had to avert several potential lethal obstacles to get by the host Greyhounds, 55-46, in overtime.

The win gave the Trojans an opportunity to defend the tournament title they won last season with a rematch against Analy.

The Petaluma-Healdsburg match up was a heart-thumping match of contrasts. While Healdsburg hunkered down behind a fortress-like zone defense, Petaluma accepted the challenge of playing the Hounds man-to-man. Petaluma spread its offense all over the roster, getting key contributions from many sources, Healdsburg’s attack was a two-man show, consisting of Landon Courtman driving to the hoop and Troy Chapman cleaning up everything dropping off the rim at either end of the court.

Both concepts proved semi-successful, resulting in a bruising collision that for four periods was controlled by neither side.

Defense dominated through the first half, with Petaluma reaching the mid-point clinging to a 21-17 lead, largely through the hurricane-like efforts of guard Trey Davis. The junior transfer from St. Vincent stormed all over the court, driving, popping from distance, defending, rebounding and generally disrupting the efforts of the Greyhounds. He had 13 points and accounted for twice that many with his steals and pin-point passing.

It was Davis who accounted for Petaluma’s final five points of the second period, shoving the Trojans into the lead.

Offense for both sides picked up in the second half as Healdsburg began to dominate the paint but couldn’t shake the tenacious Trojans, who stayed alive on hustle, will and short-range jumpers.

Although Courtman finished with a game-high 17 points, Petaluma made him pay for every drive. The tenacious guard of Colin Stremlau and Brandon O’Neill blocked his every assault to the rim, resulting in fouls rather than baskets.

It was a tradeoff the Trojans were more than willing to make, since the Dragon big men, Courtman and Chapman (who finished with 15 points), were a combined 6-of-20 from the stripe.

The rugged play took its toll, with Stremlau fouling out midway through the final period after being whistled for his fifth violation.

Courtman was incarcerated on the Healdsburg bench with his fifth misdemeanor in the final minute of regulation. It was the decisive whistle of the game.

Healdsburg managed to hang on through regulation, although the Greyhounds gave the Trojans a chance to win at the end when they failed to inbounds within the five-second time frame, turning the ball over with about 18 seconds left.

A desperation 3-point try by Devin Gottschall came off the rim, and the buzzer sounded on a 42-42 standoff.

With Courtman benched, Healdsburg had no chance in the one-sided extra period.

O’Neill, who had an excellent all-around game finishing with 14 points, dropped in a free throw for the overtime’s first point, and Jack Anderson hit his only shot of the game, a 3-point bomb, to clinch the showdown with Analy.

Austin Paretti was another major contributor for Troy, providing 10 points, many at crucial times during the back-and-forth battle.

Petaluma never found the range with its long-distance shooting, hitting only 3-of-18 shots from beyond the arc. However, the Trojans hit on 17-of-31 two-point tries (54 percent) and 12-of-14 free throws (85 percent). O’Neill was 6-of-7 from the stripe.