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Trojans battle, fall to Vikings in non-league game

The Petaluma High School boys basketball team used an aggressive zone defense to slow but not stop Montgomery’s high-flying Vikings in a rare Saturday matinee game. The final 53-34 margin of Montgomery’s win belied the entertainment value of the non-league encounter played in the Petaluma gym.

Montgomery, locked in a tight three-way race with Cardinal Newman and Windsor for the North Bay League championship, is now 19-5 on the season. Petaluma, with the loss, drops to 12-11. The Trojans are 6-4 in league heading into the final week of the regular season. Petaluma was scheduled to play at home against Analy on Wednesday (game results not available at press time) and finish at Healdsburg on Friday night.

Saturday’s encounter was a high-intensity affair marked by exceptional but contrasting defense from both sides. Petaluma played a quickly shifting zone, while Montgomery countered with a pugnatious man-to-man defensive strategy.

The difference was that Montgomery was able to find soft spots in the Trojans’ zone and, at other times, pop over the top for 3-point hits. When the Trojans managed to get to the hoop through the swarming Vikings, they couldn’t put the ball in the basket.

After staying in the game through the first half, the Trojans scored just six points in each of the third and fourth periods. Twelve points a half won’t win many games.

Petaluma’s Brendan O’Neill added a hot-shooting hand to his normal frantic playing style early on, helping his side to make the contest competitive through the first two quarters.

O’Neill hit Petaluma’s first basket of the game — a 3-pointer, and went on to score 10 of his team-high 14 points in the first half.

Montgomery countered O’Neill’s charge by popping four treys in the opening period, and, despite a second-quarter slump, still led at the half, 30-22. Montgomery scored just seven points in a reserve-played second stanza.

Petaluma continued to hustle on defense, but poor shooting on the Trojan end quickly let the game spiral out of control in the second half.

Multi-talented Evan Poulsen and his 6-foot, 5-inch teammate Riley O’Neill took over the game for the Vikings in the third quarter. Poulsen dropped in a pair of 3’s, drove for two more points and passed inside where Riley O’Neill put in a pair of triples, and by the end of the period, Montgomery had a 47-28 lead.

The final period was played primarily for exercise, although Petaluma did get to celebrate a 3-point hit by Zack Clark.

The Trojans got scoring from seven players, but only Brendan O’Neill reached double digits, with Jack Anderson and Devin Gottschall adding five points each.

Poulsen led Montgomery with 17 points, with Riley O’Neill and Harvey Rouleau adding eight apiece.

SCL fall at Sonoma

The loss was the second of the week for the Trojans, who hurtingly lost a 60-40 decision in a Sonoma County League game played at Sonoma.

Trailing, 31-17, early in the third quarter, Petaluma went on a 14-2 run to pull to within 32-31 with just over three minutes left in the quarter.

But before those three minutes had blinked away, Sonoma scored 15 unanswered points and took control of the game.

Jack Boydell led the charge with 10 points during the surge and finished with 25 for the game.