The Petaluma boys basketball team learned some valuable lessons in Cardinal Newman’s Rose City basketball tournament last weekend, but the lessons came with a cost to the Trojan record.
Petaluma lost two of its three games played in the tournament that was moved to Maria Carrillo gym because of fire damage to the Cardinal Newman campus.
Petaluma started the tournament strongly, beating Santa Rosa, 59-40.
Then the painful instruction began as the Trojans learned they can’t beat a good team when the opposition gets two or three shots each time down the court, losing to host and eventual tournament champion Cardinal Newman, 55-32. In the game for third place, the Trojans were taught by Redwood that they have to finish, both their drives and the ball game, losing, 49-46.
Petaluma erupted for 15 points in the third quarter, while holding Santa Rosa scoreless to win its first-round game.
For Petaluma, the game was an intensely played defensive struggle with the Trojans holding a 1-point (22-21) lead at half.
The second half opened with a basket by Jack Anderson, and escalated for Petaluma from there. Justin Wolbert sparked the assault with contributions from Brendan O’Neill and Anderson. Meanwhile, the Petaluma defense was downright mean, denying Santa Rosa everything but breathing room, and that was scarce.
By the end of the frame, Petaluma led, 37-21, and the contest was over.
O’Neill, who at one point in the final period hit six straight free throws, led Petaluma with 13 points, while Devin Gotschall, who kept Petaluma in the game early, added 10. Wolbert scored eight and Robbie Isetta seven, with a pair of key treys.
Junior Andre Gaudreau was at times the only Santa Rosa offense. He led all scorers with 23.
Petaluma allowed Cardinal Newman a multitude of second and third shots in what was pretty much a one-sided game.
While the Cardinals were controlling the boards and the game, the Trojans were finding points hard to come by caused by a combination of strong Newman defense and poor Petaluma shooting.
O’Neill led Petaluma scoring with eight, with Wolbert adding seven.
Eleven players scored for Cardinal Newman, led by Brad Morato with 12.
Petaluma played better against a bigger Redwood team, but faltered at the finish, scoring just one basket in the game’s final four minutes.
“I thought we played well,” said Petaluma coach Scott Behrs. “We finally got some scoring underneath. We just couldn’t score in the fourth quarter.”
The game was a tug of wills until the last minutes, with Petaluma trailing, 40-38, going into that fatal finish.
Early on, it looked like the Giants were going to use their superior height to make quick work of the Trojans, building a 17-12 first-period lead, with all their points coming from either the foul line or inside the paint. Six of the points came from quick 6-foot junior guard Jake Mathews.
Petaluma went long to stay in the game in the second period with Trey Davis and O’Neill draining 3-point hits and the Trojans playing in-your-face defense to close the gap.
The Trojans received a scoreboard and emotional lift when Teddy Critchett connected on a left-handed hook hit and Robert Holmes drove to the basket to cut the Redwood lead to 29-24 at the half.