Casa Grande tops SCL boys basketball

Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

Casa Grande must go through Analy again to keep control in Sonoma County League boys’ basketball after going undefeated through the first half of league play.

Max Fujii

The Gauchos, Tigers and Windsor are the league’s top teams as expected. Sonoma Valley and Healdsburg are tough opponents with Petaluma and El Molino struggling in the very competitive SCL.

The three point home win for Casa Grande over Analy was the Gauchos’ closest league contest. A deep and experienced team, Casa Grande has a good balance of shooters, passers and rebounders led by All-Empire guard Joey Rodriguez.

“We’ve been doing a little bit of everything well,” said Casa Grande coach James Forni. “The kids have gained some maturity. This year we’re pulling off some of those big games.”

Floor leader Rodriguez’ numbers reflect the team’s balance, averaging 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds a game. Forward Josh Hayworth continues to enjoy a breakout season with 14 points and 11 rebounds per contest, followed by forward Nick Sherry’s 9 points and 7 rebounds.

A big difference for Casa Grande this season is greater quickness and a scrappy determination. The Gauchos will need it with league rivals aiming to knock Casa Grande from the top spot.

“In league there’s always surprises,” Forni said. “The coaches all know what everybody likes to do. It’s just the matter of kids going out and executing a game plan.”

Younger but still formidable, Analy is making another run at the league title with guards Max Fujii and Eli Alcantar fueling a high scoring offense and leading an improving defense. Fujii, All-Empire Player of the Year last season, scores 26 a game adding 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Alcantar hits for 15 points and adds 3 assists and 3 rebounds per contest.

Where the Tigers have improved is down low with forwards Nathan Molony-Benjamin and Geddy Dukes. The pair combines for 13 points and 13 rebounds a game.

“We have guys who have emerged as scoring threats,” said Analy coach Brett Page. “We don’t have quite the quickness that we’ve had in the past, but we’ve been able to get a few more rebounds.”

Windsor looks to bounce back after a frustrating loss to Analy, when the Tigers scored the game’s final 13 points, followed by a 25-point defeat at home to Casa Grande.

The league’s tallest team, Windsor needs to score more consistently and increase second chance points with rebounds on the offensive end. Center Tanner Giddings, at 6 foot 9, and forward Shane Hardisty, 6 foot 4, are back on top of the scoring column.

“Our strength is our size and trying to work the ball inside. We’re getting better,” said Windsor coach Steve Kramer.

In fourth place, Sonoma Valley faces a battle from Healdsburg to hold onto the final spot for the league’s playoffs. The Dragons are getting another standout effort from forward Dylan Severson, 13 points and 7 rebounds a game. Shooting guard Giani Romano adds 10 points per contest with forward Steve McGunagle complementing Severson down low with 6 points and 4 rebounds a game.

Healdsburg’s three losses to the league’s top teams were by a combined 11 points. The Greyhounds have been competitive thanks to balanced scoring and solid team rebounding.

Forward Peter Nelson averages 13 points and 5 rebounds with guard Kevin MacLachlan adding 12 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds per contest. The other senior guard, Joey Miller, contributes 10 points and 4 rebounds – five players average more than 4 rebounds.

Scoring has been a struggle for Petaluma. But the Trojans played Windsor tough in their last game and hope to build on that effort in the season’s second half. Guard Noah Forrey and forward Anthony Sequiera are two of Petaluma’s top scoring options.

Defense is what El Molino must improve, as league opponents are averaging 63 points a game. Small forward Joe Douglass and guard Jordan Nordby pace the Lions.

Wednesday’s games: Windsor at Casa Grande; Petaluma at Analy; Sonoma Valley at El Molino. Game times are 7:30 p.m.

Sonoma County League Boys Basketball

Casa Grande 16-4/6-0

Analy 16-4/5-1

Windsor 12-7/4-2

Sonoma Valley 7-13/3-3

Healdsburg 8-11/2-4

Petaluma 5-16/1-5

El Molino 3-17/0-6