Gauchos reach final of Brett Callan Memorial

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Pinole Valley’s Povante Hill, left, and Jerrick Ortiz double team Xavier McCall during the second round of the Brett Callan Memorial Tournament held at Casa Grande High School, Dec. 17, 2010. Pinole Valley beat Cardinal Newman 71-53. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD)

PETALUMA — Joey Rodriguez’s free throw with six seconds left in overtime was the difference Friday night as host Casa Grande defeated Clayton Valley, 54-53, and moved on to tonight’s title game of the Brett Callan Memorial Tournament.

The Gauchos will play Pinole Valley, a 71-53 winner over Cardinal Newman in the other semifinal. The championship game starts at 6 p.m.

In the consolation bracket Friday, Novato defeated Petaluma, 55-42, and Alameda edged Elsie Allen in overtime, 72-69.

Rodriguez scored three of his team’s five overtime points. The 5-foot-11 guard finished with a team-high 14. Josh Hayworth had 10 points and 11 rebounds while Nick Sherry scored nine.

The score was 29-29 going into the fourth quarter.

“We got up on them early in the last quarter,” winning coach James Forni said. “However, Clayton Valley hit some big shots down the stretch to get close and send it overtime.”

Following Rodriguez’s game-winning free throw, Clayton Valley raced down the court and missed a shot at the buzzer.

If Pinole Valley plays with the intensity it did against Newman, Casa will have its hands full in the finals.

The Spartans came out quickly, scoring the game’s first seven points in less than a minute. The Cardinals never recovered. They were down 33-23 at the half and never got closer than nine in the second half.

Xavier McCall had a game-high 25 for Newman, but had to work hard for every basket. Bobby Sharp was held to 12.

“Our defensive game plan is always to deny the other team’s top scorers from getting easy baskets,” Pinole coach Anthony Geddins said. “We scouted Newman in their opening round game against Novato, so we knew we had to make McCall and Sharp work hard on offense.

“We played them man-to-man, but whenever either of them got the ball, another player would come over and double-team. I think we did a good job. McCall had 25, but he had to work for those points.”

McCall agreed. “Credit to them,” he said. “They did nice work. I wish we would’ve gotten off to a better start. Instead of being aggressive, we wanted to see how good they were. They came out ready to play, got the jump on us and we never could catch up.”

Kairon Moore led Pinole with 21 points while Patrick Dungo had 11.

“Pinole’s the real deal,” Newman coach Tom Bonfigli said. “We had an extremely bad opening three minutes and then we played them pretty even. They played hard the entire way. I’m surprised we came out and played like we did. We’ve got a long way to go to get ready for the NBL.”

Pinole, from the Alameda-Contra Costa Conference, is 7-2. Casa (4-2) has won three straight.