Rose City Tournament ready to tip off

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cardinal Newman and Montgomery, the class of the North Bay League, and Stuart Wesonga, considered by some to be the best big man in Northern California, will all be in action when the annual Rose City Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday.
Wesonga, a 6-foot-7 center for San Marin, recently accepted a full-ride scholarship to Cal State Northridge.

As usual, Cardinal Newman is hosting the eight-team tournament. Each team will have played three games by the time a champion is crowned Saturday.
Wesonga and his San Marin teammates will play El Molino in Thursday’s opener at 3:30 p.m. The 5 p.m. game pits Montgomery against Petaluma, followed at 6:30 p.m. by Rancho Cotate vs. Windsor. The final game is scheduled for 8 p.m. with Newman hosting JFK (Richmond).

Wesonga, who weighs 210, averaged 28 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in his team’s first four games. The Mustangs went 2-2, defeating Maria Carrillo in their home opener. In the recent Jeremy Jack Tourney in Salesian, the Novato team defeated Hayward in the first round and then lost to Salesian and Las Lomas.
“We’re a good team,” coach Craig Pitti said. “We have a couple of football players that are starting to come around and Wesonga and Chris Glennon have played very well.” Glennon, a small forward, is averaging 18 points per game.

Wesonga’s season highs are 33 points (against Las Lomas), 27 rebounds (Hayward) and seven blocks (Salesian).
“He’s an outstanding player,” Pitti said. “He can shoot, rebound and play defense. We play up tempo and that style fits Wesonga’s game.”

El Molino lost at Elsie Allen on Monday, 36-34. It was the first game back for the Lions’ football players.
If the games go according to form, San Marin will have to beat Newman in Friday’s semis and Montgomery for the tourney title Saturday night.
Taking into account the home-court advantage and the fact Newman has 10 players back from the squad that captured the NBL last year, the Cardinals are the team to beat.
However, Newman coach Tom Bonfigli doesn’t see it that way.

“Montgomery is the favorite,” he said. “I saw films of their games last weekend (the Peterich Classic won by the Vikings) and was very impressed. They’re an experienced, well-coached team.
“Their defense is very good and they can beat you so many ways on offense. (Zack) Templeton and (Alec) Kobre are great outside shooters and penetrate well. Then, if the opposing team pays too much attention to the guards, their big man (6-foot-9 Ben Freeland) can beat you down low.”

Montgomery is 4-0 and its defense is yielding only 34 points per game.
Newman has played one game, defeating El Molino, 81-38.
Xavier McCall and Bobby Sharp, who led the Cardinals to a third straight NBL crown in 2009, are two of Bonfigli’s 10 veterans. Both players averaged around 15 points per game last year.

Times for Friday and Saturday may change to avoid conflicts with the NCS football playoffs. Newman plays for the Division III title Friday at 7 p.m. at Rancho Cotate’s field. The Cougars go for the Division II title Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum.
Bonfigli said if Newman wins its first round game against JFK, the Friday game will be at 3:30 p.m. That will give Cardinals supporters time to get to Rohnert Park before the football game kicks off.
“We’ll do the same for the Rancho people on Saturday,” Bonfigli said. “We’ll schedule them early in the day, so their fans can make the football game in Oakland.”