Napa’s big boys (in size and numbers) put a hurt on Casa Grande’s Vine Valley Athletic League title hopes last week, sweeping the Gauchos in their home gym.
Casa Grande gave Napa’s league-unbeaten Grizzlies a good battle before yielding, 66-59, in a mid-week game.
Vintage followed on Friday night winning a wild, but ultimately Casa-disappointing thriller, 71-69.
Long last minute
Friday night’s battle came down to a final minute that seemed more like a final hour.
Vintage took the lead for the last time in a teeter-totter fourth quarter on a basket-and-one inside shot by Grant Polk with 1:05 left.
Then things got interesting, if not productive.
Casa’s bench catalyst, Rashad Nixon, was sandwiched between two Crushers and bounced on the gym floor. There was no call made with 1:05 left.
Vintage’s Anthony Rendon was slapped on the arm with 11.9 seconds remaining and awarded two free throws. He made one to make the score 71-69.
There was a scramble for a loose ball under the Vintage basket, and the Crusher who came up with the ball while prone on the floor was whistled for traveling without a passport.
In ball possession with 1.2 seconds on the clock, Gauchos’ coach Jake Lee asked for a time out. Before play could resume, Vintage coach Rob Johnson made the same request. Trying to in-bounds at mid-court, Casa’s Kevin Cadle could not find an open teammate and he, too, signaled for a time out.
All the while, a large contingent of Casa Grande fans was screaming itself into mass hysteria.
Then, in a heartbeat, it was over.
Cadle tossed to the only open Gaucho — Scott Nave. His off-balance 3-pointer bounced short off the rim, and the Crushers celebrated while the Gauchos contemplated what might have been.
The frantic finish overshadowed a well-played game that bounced back-and-forth from tip to buzzer.
The ultimate difference was Casa Grande’s inability to keep the ball out of the hands of Vintage’s 6-foot, 5-inch center Polk, and their inability to keep him away from the basket. The big man finished with 32 points.
Casa tried everything but handcuffs to stop Polk, eventually going to a zone defense in an effort to keep the ball out of his hands.
“We had to try something different,” observed Lee.
Polk was helped by Rendon and David Brown, who combined for seven treys, most coming as the Gauchos were threatening to go on a game-changing run.
Garrett Siebels, with help from a lot of his friends, kept the Gauchos in the game until the end. Hitting from close, medium and far distances, he finished with 29 points.
Scoring help came from 10 of his teammates, with Nave finishing with 12.
Casa Grande spent most of the first three periods trying to overcome an 0-12 start. At the halftime break, Vintage was still seemingly in control with a 43-34 lead.
A flurry of 3-pointers, two by Nave and another by Noah Bailey, turned the game around at the outset of the second half. When Taju Grant bounced in a 3-pointer to beat the third-period buzzer, the Gauchos had their first lead of the game at 57-55.
From there, it was a boat race to the finish, with Siebels leading the Gauchos (eight points in the final period) and Polk (seven in the period) pacing the Crushers.