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Casa falls to 2 NBL foes in Callan tourney

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For the host Casa Grande Gauchos, the Brett Callan Memorial Tournament gave them a preview of what they might expect in their final season as a member of the North Bay League.

After an impressive 64-58 win over Analy from the Sonoma County League, the Gauchos took on two teams from the NBL — Windsor and Montgomery. The result was not encouraging. The Gauchos lost to Montgomery’s Vikings, 57-34, and fell to Windsor’s Jaguars, 57-37.

The tournament, the 12th annual named in honor of former Casa Grande basketball star Brett Callan, who died in a car crash in 2004, was one of the best in the series, featuring two overtime games and a championship clash thas was decided by two points.

Montgomery won that game, battling back from a four-point, fourth-quarter deficit to hold off Tamalpais, 48-46.

Good start

Casa Grande started its tournament on a high note, defeating Analy’s Tigers, 64-58, in its first-round game.

The game was a tale of two halves, with the Gauchos dominating the first two quarters, building a 41-25 lead. Analy turned things around in the second half, getting as close as six points late in the game.

The win was badly needed by the Gauchos, coming off an emotional loss to rival Petaluma on Tuesday.

“The players were not pleased with their effort against Petaluma,” said Casa Grande coach Jake Lee. “They challenged themselves to play better on defense and with ball movement.”

The Gauchos met the challenge, plugging up the Tiger driving lanes with good help defense. That same unselfish attitude was apparent on offense as well, as Casa swiftly but patiently passed around the Tiger defenders until the Gauchos had a good look at the basket.

Garrett Siebels continued to carry much of the Casa offensive load, finishing with 22 points, including two 3-point hits. He hit three straight free throws to stop the Analy momentum after the Tigers had pulled to within 61-55 with two minutes to play.

Guard J.J. Fain got hot to lead Analy’s second-half comeback try. He ended with 21 points that included three outside bombs.

With four different players contributing, Casa Grande impressively worked its half-court offense in the opening period, building a 16-12 lead.

The Gauchos fired from long range in the second stanza, with Scott Nave hitting three times from beyond the arc and Siebels once as the Gauchos upped their advantage to 41-25 by the intermission.

For the game, Nave hit four times from 3-point country for a season-high 12 points.

Fifteen of Fain’s points came in the second half as he kept the Tigers in the gym.

His efforts weren’t nearly enough to catch the Gauchos, who held a nine- to 12-point advantage to the buzzer.

Bad finish

Casa Grande, deploying a unique full-court zone defense, played with the eventual tournament champion Vikings through three quarters of good basketball before hitting a wall of hurt in the fourth period of their second-round game.

Casa was still within catching distance of the Vikings at 40-31 starting a final-quarter disaster. During that last period, Casa Grande scored just three points, all by Josh Jovick, who, midway through the frame, hit one of a two-shot foul opportunity and worked inside through the Vikings’ multi-tenacled defense for the only Casa points of the period.

“Our defense worked well for a time,” said Lee, “but they were able to adjust. They are a good team and tonight their shooters shot well.”

With their defense designed to contain tournament Most Valuable Player, 6-foot, 5-inch Riley O’Neill, the Gauchos were vulnerable to the outside shooting of Evan Poulsen, who connected on four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 18 points.

Jovick, who is becoming more and more a scorer for the Gauchos as the season progresses, led his team with 12 points, while Siebels added nine.

Too tall twins

Windsor’s twin terrors, Riley Smith and Justin Smith, both 6-feet, 7-inches tall, were too big and too talented for Casa in the battle for third place on the tournament’s final night.

Justin led the one-sided win with 18 points and Riley scored 17.

They also turned Casa Grande into one-shot Gauchos, seemingly snatching every Casa miss off the rim.

Between the two of them, they were 12 of 12 from the foul line, with Justin going 8-of-8 and Riley 4-for-4.

Casa Grande started the game well, with Siebels, Noah Bailey and Jovick hitting treys in the early going as Casa surprised Windsor with a 10-5 early lead.

It didn’t take long for the surprise and Casa lead to dissipate. The Gauchos went scoreless over the final four minutes of the initial quarter and Riley Smith stepped to the foul line for the first four of his free throws to give the Jaguars an 11-10 lead at the end of the period.

They never trailed after that. Casa Grade scored just five points in the second period, while Justin Smith scored 10 by himself and Windsor led at the half, 30-15.

Casa Grande went down shooting, with Cerruti playing his best game of the tournament. He hit a pair of 3’s in the third quarter and drove into the danger zone of the paint to set up shots for his teammates.

Taiju Grant and Siebels added distance hits in the fourth quarter.

Siebels led the Gauchos with 10 points, earning himself a spot on the all-tournament team.