Montgomery lifts its game just in time

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The 3-point shooting advantage on Friday night went to Maria Carrillo. But more importantly, for Montgomery, the final score favored the Vikings, 56-49, in a key North Bay League boys basketball matchup at Montgomery.

The ball pops loose as Montgomery's Zack Templeton and Maria Carrillo's Brian Johnson fight for the ball during the game held at Montgomery High School, Jan. 15, 2011. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

It turned out 46 percent of the points scored came from 3-point range with the Pumas nailing nine and Montgomery six.

The score was tied at the end of each of the first three quarters, before Montgomery erupted in the final stanza.

Alec Kobre started the run with a 3-pointer with 7:45 remaining to give the Vikings a 36-33 lead.

Less than two minutes later, the lead had grown to 44-34 as Quentin Mendoza drained a pair of 3-pointers and Kobre swished a jump shot just inside the arc. Maria Carrillo’s only point during that time came on a Jake Daly free throw.

Mendoza, who started early in the season, came off the bench and did just what Vikings’ coach Tom Fitchie instructed.

“My job now is to come off the bench and give the team energy,” Mendoza said. “I think the reason we pulled away in the fourth quarter is that we were setting screens for one another and opening the floor to get good looks at the basket.”

Kobre definitely benefited from the good screens his teammates were setting. The senior has been Montgomery’s leading scorer all year, but was only 2-of-12 from the field entering the final quarter.

The 6-foot-2 guard scored eight of his 13 points when the game was decided over a four-minute span.

“I just kept shooting after the slow start and the shots finally started falling,” Kobre said. “Mendoza definitely gave the team a lift in the fourth quarter. He got us moving.”

Like Kobre, Mendoza finished with 13. They were the only Vikings in double figures.

The Vikings’ rally overshadowed a tremendous effort by Carrillo’s Brian Johnson.

The junior connected on six 3-point shots and finished with 19. Mike Francis added 15.

“We had three major defensive breakdowns when Montgomery had the run that made the difference,” Pumas coach Jerry Deakins said. “Until then, we’d executed our defensive game plan.

“Montgomery is a good-shooting team from long range, so our plan was to play them tight even beyond the 3-point line. We did that for all but that stretch in the fourth when they got good looks and made the shots.

“We played hard and I can’t fault the kids’ effort.”

Fitchie wasn’t as pleased with his team’s performance.

“Of course, I was happy to win but we just didn’t play with much offensive rhythm until the fourth quarter,” he said. “We were passing the ball around and not penetrating. For us to be effective, we need to attack and if the lane is clogged, kick the ball back out to our shooters.”

Both teams were undefeated in league play, so the victory keeps the Vikings tied with Cardinal Newman at 4-0.

Overall, Montgomery is 14-2 and has won six of its last seven. The lone loss was a non-league game against Analy.

The loss leaves Carrillo at 10-5 and snaps a five-game winning streak.