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Petaluma boys post rare win in Analy’s Tiger den

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It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but for the first time in nearly a decade, Petaluma’s boys basketball team escaped from Analy’s den of doom with a win Tuesday night.

No one is certain, but Trojan basketball followers agree that Tuesday’s 44-42 Trojan win over the homestanding Tigers marked the first victory by a Petaluma team in Analy’s historic sunken gym in almost 10 years.

Of course, this season’s Analy team doesn’t compare to the sharp-shooting Tigers of recent glory. They aren’t as big or as fast, and they don’t shoot nearly as well.

What they do is hustle and battle. It was almost enough against a Trojan team that played less than its best as it perhaps looked forward to tonight’s home contest against Sonoma County League unbeaten Healdsburg.

The Trojans almost let Analy take Tuesday’s win away from them on the backboards as the Tigers hustled their way to 19 second and third shots.

“It is hard to beat any team in the SCL on their home court, especially when you give them 19 extra chances,” said Petaluma coach Scott Behrs.

Despite their backboard problems and inconsistent shooting, the Trojans, now 10-8 on the season and 4-1 in SCL play, found a way to win.

Petaluma had a difficult time penetrating the Analy zone defense, but with the game on the line, Jack Anderson came up big, hitting 5-of-7 free throws in the final quarter as he survived a belting by Tiger defenders in the paint.

For most of the game, Petaluma had to depend on the ball handling, driving and occasional 3-point shooting of guards Robbie Isetta, Whitaker Ellis, Justin Wolbert and Brendan O’Neill. Wolbert, coming back from a knee injury, was particularly impressive, distributing the ball and contributing 10 points to the Trojan cause. O’Neill finished with nine points and Anderson scored 12.

Isetta, Anderson and Ellis hit treys in the third period and Petaluma seemed on the verge of blowing the game open, taking a 10-point lead at 37-27.

But the gritty Tigers, led by junior Quinn Vermeulan and a ball-seeking defense, battled back, holding the Trojans without a floor hit in the entire final quarter.

Vermeulan finally tied the game at 42-42 with just 31 seconds left when he followed his own missed shot with a put-back.

Neither team could put the ball in the basket over the final half minute, but twice during that short span, Anderson hit one of two offered free throws to provide the margin of Trojan triumph.

A final desperation shot by Vermeulan was off the back rim and the Trojans gladly left the Analy gym with SCL title hopes still intact.

The game started late following both a brief power outage and a quadruple overtime in the freshman game eventually won by Petaluma. Analy won the junior varsity contest.

Trojans top Sonoma

Last week, in a game marked more than marred by a bench-clearing altercation, the Trojans handedly dispatched Sonoma’s Dragons, 71-59, in the Petaluma gym.

Petaluma used its tall trio of Anderson (6-foot-4), Devin Gottschall (6-2) and newcomer Kenny Alexander (6-2) to totally dominate the paint. The trio not only controlled the boards at both ends of the court, but prevented the Dragons from gaining any offensive continuity the entire game.

Anderson was quietly unstoppable, fashioning a 22-point game and snatching just about everything that came off the Dragon rim.

With Ellis and Wolbert unable to play, the Trojans were dangerously thin in the backcourt. Isetta stepped up, handling the ball, defending and seldom coming off the court through the first three quarters. He also chipped in 11 points.

It was the ball distribution and energetic defense of Isetta and Trey Davis that fueled an early lead by the Trojans, although the scoring and muscle work came from the three big men. Later, the versatile O’Neill provided ball-handling help for Isetta.

It was midway through the third period, with Petaluma solidly in control of a physical scrum of a game, that a scuffle between Sonoma’s Tyler Garrett and Petaluma’s Davis flared into a benches-clearing confrontation. Quick work by coaches from both sides kept the episode from escalating into a serious incident.

Three technical fouls were handed out, including one to an apparently innocent Trojan bystander, but no one was ejected.