Peterich Classic: 7-0 fourth-quarter run lifts Gauchos

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Casa Grande started strong and ended strong while opening its season with a 54-44 win over California in the first round of the Russ Peterich Classic Thursday night at Montgomery High.

“Those middle two quarters weren’t so good,” coach James Forni said.

“The important thing is we were able to outscore a pretty good California team by nine points in the final quarter.”

Behind 11 first-quarter points from 5-foot-11 senior guard Joey Rodriguez, who finished with 24 points, the Gauchos led 15-9 after one period. However, Casa scored only 15 points total in the middle quarters and were clinging to a 30-29 lead entering the final eight minutes.

Casa scored the first seven points of the quarter and the Grizzlies never recovered.

Rodriguez started the run when he split the defense and scored a layup 15 seconds into the quarter. Then 6-foot-4 Josh Hayworth found 6-foot-5 Zack Keffury alone under the basket for an easy basket.

Following a free throw by Rodriguez, Tony Tescallo scored on a three-foot bank shot and it was 37-29 with 5:05 left on the clock.

California, from San Ramon, fell behind 44-32 when Hayworth scored from in close with 2:30 remaining.

Both teams were missing starters because of the North Coast Section football playoffs. Casa front-line players Nick Sherry, Makana Garrigan and Jonathon Cole will be on the gridiron tonight for the Division II semifinal against Concord.

California’s football team, which includes several players that will eventually join the basketball team, plays San Ramon Valley in a Division I game on Saturday.

Grizzlies coach Bob Donovan didn’t use the missing players as an excuse.

“They just outplayed us in every way,” he said of Casa. “They controlled the boards and Rodriguez hurt us.”

Hayworth had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Casa Grande.

California, now 0-2, was led by Leonard Nieto with 11.