Much like its season of contradictions, the Petaluma boys basketball team ended its campaign with a game it should not have won, should have won and ultimately did not win Monday night.
Finishing out its court year in Sonoma Valley’s refurbished gym, Petaluma’s Trojans suffered a final heartbreak, losing in overtime to the host Dragons, 49-48.
The last hurt finished the Petaluma season at 6-19 and 3-9 in Vine Valley Athletic League play.
Sonoma Valley is now 16-10 and 6-6 in league. The Dragons move on to play at Napa on Wednesday in the first round of the four-team VVAL playoffs.
Sonoma Valley dominated most of the game. It wasn’t from lack of effort or defense that Petaluma trailed, 9-2, at the end of the first quarter; 30-21 late in the third quarter; and 42-37 with just two minutes to play.
The Trojans’ trouble was simple — they couldn’t put the ball in the basket. From beyond the arc or inside the lane, Petaluma’s shots were like those at a carnival — the ball was seemingly too big for the hoop.
Led by the outside popping of senior Tyler Garrett and the all-court play of freshman Dom Girish, Sonoma was able to weather several Petaluma outbursts and hold its lead until the final minutes of regulation play.
Petaluma’s tenacious defense, coupled with a half-closing 3-pointer from Zach Clark, had the Dragon lead down to a tenuous two (17-15) at the intermission.
Paced by beyond-the-arc connections by Garrett and Riley Phelan (two), Sonoma Valley was able to stretch its advantage to 33-21 before Petaluma again rallied.
The defensive battle raged through the last regulation period, with the Trojans finally drawing even (43-43) on a 3-point connection by sophomore Esteban Bermudez just 35 seconds from what would not be the end of the game.
There were just 6.4 seconds left when George Tynes, highlighting an outstanding all-around game, drove to the hoop to give Petaluma a 45-43 lead.
It wouldn’t stand.
Some way, Sonoma’s super-quick freshman, Girish, managed to elude Trojan defenders to drive unmolested for a lay-in that dropped through the net an eye blink ahead of the fourth-period buzzer, tying the game, 45-45.
After the tension and drama of regulation play, the overtime was an anti-climax.
Neither team could hit a shot.
Twenty seconds into the extra period, Garrett hit one of two offered free throws for Sonoma and the lone point would stand as the difference as the team’s traded 3-point baskets with Bermudez connecting for Petaluma and Garrett answering for Sonoma.
Petaluma got the last shot, but Tynes’ off-balance jump shot tipped off the rim and the first VVAL season came to an end for Petaluma.
Garrett led Sonoma with 12 points, with Phelan and Girish scoring 10 apiece.
Nine players scored for Petaluma, led by Kenny Alexander with 10. Tynes pulled down 13 rebounds with 5-foot, 8-inch point guard Robbie Isetta grabbing six.
Petaluma let a 15-point second-half lead disappear before holding on to win the junior varsity game, 37-36.
Loss to Napa
Napa remained undefeated in Vine Valley Athletic League play on Friday as the Grizzlies held off a spirited rally by host Petaluma to post a 63-57 victory.
It was the 11th consecutive league victory without a defeat for the Grizzly boys, who clinched an elusive basketball title for the first time in 28 years.