The Petaluma High School boys basketball team literally missed its opportunity to remain in the chase for the Sonoma County League pennant Monday night, losing on its home court to Piner, 55-48.
Several things did not go right for the Trojans, but the biggest problem was an inability to put the ball in the basket despite getting close-in shots and open looks.
The loss left Petaluma 6-3 in SCL play (12-10 overall), a game behind Piner (6-2) in the loss column, but two behind Healdsburg (8-1) with just three SCL games left on the Trojans’ schedule. The Petalumans still have a mathematical chance for a title tie, but it is a long shot.
Still on the Trojans’ regular-season agenda are Sonoma Valley (played Wednesday at Sonoma), Montgomery in a non-league game Saturday afternoon, home against Analy on Feb. 7 and at Healdsburg on Feb. 9.
Neither team shot well Monday, a testament to the body-bruising defense played by both teams.
Petaluma’s offense consisted primarily of Jack Anderson with side help from Devin Gottschall. Despite continued battering while working in the paint on both ends of the court, the 6-foot, 4-inch Anderson scored 21 points and clogged up the Piner driving lanes. Gottschall added 10 points.
Petaluma opened with a full-court press and tried various defensive tactics as the battle waged on.
“We changed our defense four times during the game. Every time we slowed them down for a while until they figured it out,” noted Petaluma coach Scott Behrs.
The game was an even tug of wills for almost the entire game, with neither side able to muster more than a five-point advantage. After three quarters, each team had managed just 32 points.
The final round was a ragged affair, with Petaluma hanging close on the free-throw shooting of Anderson and Gotschall, while junior guard Scott Erickson took over the leadership role for Piner, popping in a 3-pointer and twice driving to the hoop as Piner’s lead jumped to 48-40 in the final two minutes.
Anderson and Petaluma weren’t finished. The senior hit a medium-range jumper, and when he nailed a trey off a picture-perfect screen from Brendan O’Neill, the Trojans were back to within four at 51-47 with 30 seconds left.
Unable to find the range in that last half-minute, and forced to trade fouls for possessions, Petaluma watched the game and perhaps a title share slip away at the foul line where Erickson hit 3-of-4 tries in the closing seconds.
Jorge San Roman, who continually hurt the Trojans inside, led Piner with 16 points, while Erickson finished with 11.
Last week, Petaluma put together one of its best scoring games of the season, blasting El Molino, 79-46, in a game played in the Lions’ den in Forestville.
Leading just 14-12 after the first quarter, Petaluma scored 20 points in the second period and then exploded for 28 points in the third period to turn the game into a rout.
O’Neill led Petaluma with 16 points, while Anderson added 15.