Callan tournament set to tip off

Joey Rodriguez leads Casa Grande with 14 points per game. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A recharged Casa Grande, NBL contender Cardinal Newman and Bay Area powerhouse Pinole Valley head the field for the fifth annual Brett Callan Memorial basketball tournament, which tips off today at the Gauchos’ gym.

The tournament honors the memory of the Casa Grande student killed in an automobile accident in June of 2004.
Pinole (5-2), which plays Petaluma (3-7) in the tournament opener at 3:30 p.m., returns eight players from last year’s team, which made it to CIF and defeated Montgomery, 46-44, in its playoff run. Kairon Moore, a 6-foot-4 senior wing and last year’s second-leading scorer at 10 per game, heads the returnees.

Pinole and Casa get a boost as the players from their football teams are ready to see extended action. The Gauchos were knocked out of the NCS football playoffs on Dec. 3 and the Spartans lost the next night.
Nick Sherry, who quarterbacked the Casa football team, is rounding into basketball shape, according to his coach.

“Nick’s also the quarterback of the basketball team,” Casa Grande coach James Forni said. “He is a great team leader and is the glue that makes our team go.”
The 6-foot-5 forward saw limited action on Dec. 8 in a 77-54 win over Santa Rosa and had 12 points and seven rebounds.

“Nick’s a good enough athlete that it doesn’t take him long to get into the mix for basketball,” Forni said. Last year, Sherry averaged 10 points per game.
The Casa coaching staff scouted Alameda on Tuesday when the Hornets defeated Petaluma, 41-36, for their first win of the season.

“We’ll have a definite size advantage against Alameda, although they are good at the forward position,” Forni said. “They had a poor shooting night against Petaluma.”
The Gauchos are 2-2 and are led in scoring by Joey Rodriguez (14) and Josh Hayworth (12).
When Cardinal Newman (3-1) takes the court at 5 p.m. for its game with Novato (2-3), it will mark the start of a busy stretch for the Cardinals.

“We have eight games in two weeks,” Bonfigli said. “Besides three games in the Callan, we have back-to-back games with Petaluma and Analy next week and then finish the month playing three in the Sonoma County Classic.”
Newman finished third in last weekend’s Rose City Tournament at the Cardinals’ gym. San Marin beat the Cardinals, 67-55, in the semifinals.

“I scouted Novato when they beat Piner by 14 on Dec.1,” Bonfigli said. “They’re a small, quick team. They’re young and play hard.”
Bobby Sharp, who had 34 in the loss to San Marin, and Xavier McCall give Newman a solid one-two punch.

The 6:30 contest finds Elsie Allen (1-3) playing Clayton Valley (4-3). The Lobos’ win came at home against El Molino and guard Jenity Him is the team’s leading scorer.
Clayton Valley lost 66-51 on Tuesday to Las Lomas (6-1). That snapped a two-game win streak for the team from Concord. The Eagles had beaten California by 16 and Tennyson by 24.

Each team will play three times by the time the Callan champion is crowned. The title game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.