Newman wins Sonoma County Classic

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Xavier McCall knew he had to be aggressive if Cardinal Newman was going to beat Acalanes in Thursday night’s championship game of the Sonoma County Classic at Piner High.
McCall’s aggressiveness not only led his team to a 54-45 victory over the team from Lafayette, his 27-point performance earned him the most valuable player trophy.

Bobby Sharp scored 15 points in the second half of Cardinal Newman's 54-45 win over Acalanes for the Sonoma County Classic championship. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

In his pre-game talk, coach Tom Bonfigli told his players he thought the difference in the game would be which team showed the most aggressiveness and toughness.

McCall was paying attention as the 6-foot-3 senior scored 15 straight points in the first and second quarters. Then, after Acalanes rallied to take a 23-20 halftime lead, McCall went back to work, scoring eight straight points as Newman took control, 34-27, with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Acalanes (7-6) never threatened after that and, with 2:45 remaining, the lead ballooned to 52-35. Bobby Sharp had 15 in the second half after scoring only one before intermission.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking to shoot a lot,” McCall said. “I just wanted to attack the basket. If they double-teamed me, I knew I had the option of passing off to a teammate. I knew if I stayed aggressive, good things were going to happen.”
Bonfigli said his team was aggressive on both sides of the court.

“The aggressive way we played defense was what I liked,” the coach said. “I told the team if we held them to under 50 points, we’re going to win the game. I didn’t know if we could do it because they’re a very good shooting team.”
McCall said he and his teammates tried to make the Dons work for every shot, even 3-point attempts.

“When we got our defense set up in the half-court, we really did a good job of shutting them down,” he said. “We also hit the defensive boards hard.”
This was the second Sonoma County Classic win in three years for Newman. It also ended a rugged part of the schedule that found the Cardinals playing seven times in 15 days. Now 9-3, they open NBL play on Wednesday when Ukiah visits.

In other games Wednesday, Piner took third place with a 48-47 victory over El Molino. The consolation championship went to Rancho Cotate, a 78-71 winner over Mt. Eden. Eureka finished seventh with a 55-42 win over JFK (Richmond).

Besides McCall and Sharp, others named to the all-tournament team were: Piner’s Calvin Gonzalez and Skyler Ramos, Acalanes’ James Griffin and Michael Jackson, Rancho Cotate’s Nick DeSoto and Tristan Eaken, El Molino’s Joe Douglass, Mt. Eden’s Shamil Sharma and Eureka’s Mitch Hash.
The outstanding defensive player award went to Mt. Eden’s Nomso Nwachuku.