PHS heartbreak in overtime loss at Sonoma

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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.

The host Trojans (3-8) did not go quietly after trailing by as many as 21 points in the second period. Petaluma struggled against full-court pressure, and turned the ball over 14 times in the first half, which ended 32-19 in favor of Napa. Many of the Petaluma passing errors came along the right sideline when the Trojans were pressured into double teams.

Sophomore Brock Bowers rang up 12 points in the first half to lead the charge for Napa, and the Grizzlies never trailed. The only miss-step for the emerging young star was a missed dunk attempt on a break-away halfway through the second stanza.

Meanwhile, for the Trojans, coach Scott Behrs juggled his senior-night lineup through the first half in an effort to right the ship. Five points and a shot from outside the 3-point arc by Isetta helped keep the game close enough for a run after intermission.

Isetta started feeling it in the second half with long-range bombing that eventually pulled the Trojans to within four points at 58-54 with a little over a minute left on the clock. Solid board play by teammates Tynes and Alexander kept the Petaluma hopes alive, along with rekindled support from the Trojan crowd.

The Trojans battled back to outscore the Vine Valley champs, 36-31, in the second half, but the comeback came up short in the final minute.

As time ran out, the Trojans had to foul in order to stop the clock, and Isetta was the first to sacrifice himself with a fifth personal. He left the contest with a team-leading 18 points, including four hits from distance.

Alexander also ended the game in double figures with 13 points.

While Alexander and Tynes proved to be a force underneath, it was not their night for short put-back shots close to the basket. Tynes grabbed five rebounds over Grizzlies with better position, but his short return shots fell off the rim. A big block by Alexander in the fourth quarter caught the attention of the Trojan partisans, and it helped keep the Petaluma rally alive.

While Bowers was content to pass to Napa teammates down the stretch, forward Zack Swim came alive with 15 points in the second half to help the Grizzlies fend off the fast-closing Trojans. Swim finished with 22 points on pressure shots to lead both teams.

Bermudez entered the game late in the first period, and never got into a good offensive rhythm after a notable game against rival Casa Grande on Wednesday. A last-second lay-in before halftime and some fine floor play were his major contributions on the night.

The Petaluma junior varsity put together a second consecutive outstanding outing with a convincing 55-40 win over Napa in the preliminary game.

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