Petaluma boys’ Vine Valley Athletic League match up with Sonoma Valley on Tuesday night began with a bad dunk and concluded with a thunderous slam much more to the host Trojans’ liking.
In between, Petaluma overcame the absence of its two starting guards to stop the invading Dragons, 72-60.
The game hadn’t even tipped off before Petaluma found itself in a 1-0 hole, the result of Sonoma’s Dom Girish dropping in one of two free throws offered as a result of a technical foul called on Petaluma for a dunk during pre-game warm-ups.
In what most Trojan fans viewed as justifiable retribution, the Trojans’ victory was punctuated by an emphatic, and very much legal, one-handed slam by George Tynes for the game’s final basket.
In between the dunks, Petaluma played one of its best and highest-scoring offensive games of the season despite missing starting guards Esteban Bermudez and Robbie Isetta, both sidelined by illness.
“This was a team effort,” said Petaluma coach Scott Behrs. “We had some players really step up, and at the end we had the right five on the court.”
With the starters missing, sophomores Eric Perez and Ivan Cortes took charge of both the ball handling and much of the scoring duties.
Perez kept the Trojans in the game through a difficult opening period and finished with a team-high 15 points. Cortes contributed seven points and solid all-court play.
But help came from a number of sources. Kenny Alexander not only played his usual rugged defense underneath the basket, but he also dropped in a pair of treys from the corners and scored 10 points. Sam Brown played tough on the backboards and defensively but also unveiled a much-needed shooting touch, scoring nine points. Ryan Sullivan and Garett Gehring each provided some timely scoring and contributed to the defensive effort, and Tynes had a strong all-around game on the rim at both ends of the court.
Their combined efforts were needed to subdue a Sonoma team that came out firing and refused to give up despite trailing by as many as 11 points midway through the final quarter.
Senior Jack Boydell did a little bit of everything, and then a little more, for the Dragons — defending, rebounding and scoring a game-high 23 points. Freshman Girish showed that his advance notice was more than hype with 16 points and a solid overall game.
Sonoma came out hot, scoring the game’s first five points and leading 19-15 lead following the first quarter.
Sullivan turned things around for Petaluma with two hits from beyond the arc to start the second period. Later in the quarter, the Trojans went on a nine-point run, highlighted by Brown’s 3-point connection to take a 35-27 halftime lead it never relinquished.
Gehring hit from distance to start the second half, the Trojans ran off nine unanswered points, and it looked like the game might become a rout.
Someone forgot to tell the Dragons.
With time slipping away, Sonoma made a desperation charge, cutting the Petaluma lead to a slipping six at one point before the Trojans finished out the victory, climaxing things with Tynes’ crowd-awakening slam.
It was his first dunk ever and came following a steal that left only the floor between him and the basket. “I looked over at the coach to see if it was all right. He didn’t say anything, so I went ahead,” the 6-foot, 4-inch senior said.