Petaluma’s best wasn’t quite good enough Tuesday night as the Trojan boys lost a non-league basketball game at Montgomery, 53-43.

“That was the best game we’ve played yet this season,” observed Petaluma coach Scott Behrs. “It was without doubt the best defense we’ve played.

“We took some necessary steps to get ready to play in the Rose City Tournament.”

Petaluma opens Cardinal Newman’s eight-team tournament tonight against Windsor.

Petaluma showed Tuesday night it is ready to play with the big dogs in the Redwood Empire, overcoming a bad start to give the highly regarded Vikings all they could handle.

Even as they were falling behind, 8-3, in the opening quarter, the Trojans were giving off positive indications of better things to come. They ran their offense smoothly and played tenacious and helping defense.

The problem was the lid on their basket. Good shot after good shot came up short, rolled off and, at times, went in and popped out again.

“We were getting high-quality shots, but just weren’t connecting,” was the way Behrs put it.

Petaluma’s only connection in that opening quarter was a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Esteban Bermudez.

It was the same story in the second period, until Kenny Alexander found a hot hand from outside. With time winding down in the half, Alexander three times from the left corner dropped in dead-on distance shots, and the Trojans went from an 18-4 deficit to a 20-13 battle at the mid-point.

A drive by Zack Clark and two hits by Bermudez, one a 3-pointer, gave Petaluma its first lead of the game at 23-22 midway through the third period.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, Montgomery possesses a not-so-secret weapon. When things got messy for Montgomery, senior guard Harvey Rouleau took over. He scored five points in the closing minute of the third period and dominated the fourth quarter.

At one point in that decisive final round, he scored nine straight points while the lid again flipped down on the Petaluma basket.

The Rouleau assault pushed Montgomery in front, 45-32, and decided the issue.

Petaluma got close enough at the end to attempt a futile trade of fouls for possessions.

Bermudez led Petaluma scoring with 14 points with Alexander adding 11.

Rouleau provided the majority of the Montgomery firepower with 26 points.

Petaluma is now 1-5 on the season going into the Rose City Tournament, while Montgomery has won two of its three games.

Last week

Last week, Petaluma lost two of three games in the Fred Iten Tournament in Ukiah.

Petaluma opened the tournament with a heart-breaking 60-50 double-overtime loss to Analy. In their second game, the Trojans avenged an earlier loss to Maria Carrillo with a 55-47 victory.

Petaluma finished the tournament by losing in the consolation finals to host Ukiah, 44-35.