Rose City Tournament: Rancho overcomes height disadvantage

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

David defeated Goliath in an opening-round game of the 44th Rose City Tournament Thursday night as scrappy Rancho Cotate got the best of much taller Windsor, 47-43, at Cardinal Newman’s Fitzgerald Gym.

With 6-foot-1 Nick Desoto the tallest player on the Cougars’ squad, it looked on paper that all Windsor had to do to win was pound the ball inside. The Jaguars played a front line made up of the Giddings brothers (6-foot-9 Tanner and 6-foot-7 Collin) and 6-foot-6 Kameron Richardson.

For the first three minutes, it looked like the Windsor height advantage would be the difference. Richardson and Giddings got their hands on the ball inside and made easy baskets. Between those two scores, Garrett Hansen nailed a 12-footer and the Jaguars led 6-0.
Dennis Magatelli, in his first year as Rancho head coach, urged his players to stick to the game plan and assured them it would pay dividends.

It did. The Cougars went up 10-9 on a 3-pointer by Mike Hamlin with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Windsor never regained the lead.
Rancho stretched the advantage to 33-24 with 3:00 left in the third and then held on as Windsor cut the lead to 41-39 with 2:54 remaining.

At that point, 6-foot-0 Tristan Eaken took over the game. The senior scored his team’s last six points. He navigated through three taller defenders to bank in a lay-up, then hit a shot just inside 3-point line and clinched the victory with two free throws in the finalseconds.
So what was the game plan Magatelli drew up to frustrate the much taller opposition?

“On defense, we played a 2-3 zone for all but the last two minutes,” the coach said. “We packed the middle, trying not to let their big men get room to maneuver. On offense, we wanted to be judicious with the ball making every possession count.

“I’m thrilled. I knew we had a mountain to climb if we were going to win. The kids carried out the game plan to perfection.”
Eaken, who finished with 21, said his team made up for their lack of height by being faster and more athletic.

“We also could definitely feel Windsor getting frustrated,” he said. “They took a lot of outside shots and our defense made them turn the ball over a number of times.”
Rancho dressed only nine players. The team will gain height and brawn next week when four players from the Rancho football team join the squad. The Cougars play for the NCS Division 2 football crown Saturday night.
The tallest of the four is 6-foot-4 Ricky Garcia.
Windsor coach Steve Kramer had a 20-minute talk with his team after the game.

“We’re not real solid now,” he said. “It’s a combination of things. The guards need to get the ball inside and the big guys are not working hard enough to get open.”
In other openers, San Marin defeated El Molino, 66-39, Montgomery downed Petaluma, 70-28, and Cardinal Newman prevailed, 71-31, over JFK (Richmond).

Today, Newman plays San Marin at 3:30 p.m. followed at 5 p.m. by Windsor-Petaluma. The 6:30 game is El Molino-JFK; at 8 p.m., Montgomery plays Rancho Cotate.