Fujii scores 25 in Analy’s win over Newman

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Analy coach Brett Page calls Max Fujii pound-for-pound the best player in the Redwood Empire.

On Wednesday night, before a standing-room-only crowd in Sebastopol, the 145-pound Fujii lived up to his coach’s billing. The senior scored 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to thwart a Cardinal Newman rally and preserve a 55-51 victory for the Tigers.

Fujii, whose prowess in 3-point territory is becoming legendary, made five more against Newman. That gives him 37 in nine games and he’s nailing the long shots with nearly 50 percent precision.

“Fujii was the key,” Page said. “We led the last three quarters, but every time Newman closed the gap, Max would hit a big shot for us. He’s the best player pound-for-pound in the area.”

Even Newman coach Tom Bonfigli was impressed.

“I thought my guys did a pretty decent job on Fujii and he still went for that many,” he said.

Bobby Sharp, Newman’s best shooter, almost kept pace as he scored 20. Eight of those, including two 3-point goals, came in the final quarter. One of Sharp’s treys closed the gap to 47-44, but Analy and Fujii never let the Cardinals get closer.

At one point in the third quarter, the Tigers pushed the lead to 12.

“It was an excellent game,” Bonfigli said. “We had a chance to get up in the first half, but didn’t do well on the defensive boards. Also, we missed 11 of 27 free throws, and good teams like Analy make you pay if you don’t take advantage when you can.”

Fujii, who averages 25 points per game, scored 17 in the second half. Eli Alcantar chipped in eight points, seven below his average.

Xavier McCall supported Sharp’s big night with 13 points. McCall hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to bring Newman within four at the end.

While Page was happy with the win, he points out Analy (8-1) still has a lot of improving to do.

“We’re a young team and the kids are still learning how to play with one another,” the coach said. “We only have three seniors on the team. The young guys are doing well but it’s been like a roller coaster ride. One quarter we play great and the next we have our problems. That’s the way it is with young teams.

“The goal is to improve by the time SCL rolls around in January.”

Page singled out underclassmen Josiah Sorensen and Nathan Molony-Benjamin for coming off the bench to score big baskets, while also turning in outstanding defensive efforts.

Analy will travel to Southern California on Sunday and play in the ESPN ISCORE Classic beginning Monday.

Newman hosts Petaluma tonight and will compete in the Sonoma County Classic next week at Piner.