Newman denied in OT thriller

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Marin Catholic scored the final five points in overtime to defeat Cardinal Newman, 75-72, Saturday night and advance to the semifinal round of the North Coast Section Division 4 basketball playoffs.

The game was tied at 67 going to the four-minute extra period. The Cardinals grabbed a 72-70 when sophomore Kenny Love hit one of two free throws with 1:07 remaining.

Following a free throw by Connor O’Sullivan and a missed shot by Bobby Sharp, Marin Catholic got the go-ahead basket from an unlikely source.

Connor Renk, who had been scoreless, muscled in a shot from under the basket with 17 seconds remaining.

Cardinal Newman missed two shots in the waning seconds and when Patrick Conroy grabbed a rebound with 2.1 seconds, he was immediately fouled by Tim Moreno.

Conroy swished both free throws. A desperation shot by Andy Noonan from beyond midcourt sailed

Xavier McCall scored 16 points Saturday in Cardinal Newman's overtime loss to Marin Catholic. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

over the basket.

Newman, the No. 3 seed, trailed most of regulation. No.6 Marin took control of the game with a 17-5 run that started in the final minute of the first quarter.

The Cardinals clawed back in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 63 with 2:26 left on a basket and free throw by Love. Twenty-six seconds later, Love intercepted a Marin pass and drove coast-to-coast for a go-ahead basket.

Newman had the last shot in regulation, but Sharp’s 3-point try at the buzzer wasn’t close.

Love, a sophomore, finished with a season-high 27. Xavier McCall, who tore a muscle in his shoulder when he was fouled 2:16 before halftime, came back after intermission and wound up with 16.

Sharp, who turned his ankle during the opening-round win against Lick Wilmerding on Wednesday, played most of the game and scored 14.

“Defense wins games and we didn’t defend well,” coach Tom Bonfigli said. “When we score 72 points, we should win. I’m disappointed and, of course, the kids feel the same way.”

Mike Padovese, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound center, led the Wildcats with 16. Eight of his teammates also scored. Besides his only basket of the game, Renk had eight assists.

“All year, these kids haven’t shown any fear and that’s the way they played against Newman,” coach Mike Saia said. “Every time we needed a basket, someone stepped up to make a big play.

“It was a difficult coming into a packed gym as the visitor. When Newman came back in the fourth quarter, my kids stayed calm and under control.

“Going to overtime, I thought if we could stick around and shorten the game, something good would happen. We had some injuries earlier in the season, but now we’re healthy and it’s enjoyable seeing the kids play with such confidence.”

The Wildcats, from the Marin Catholic Athletic League, are 20-10 and will play in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Love, who also had 10 rebounds, was brilliant in the losing effort. With two more years of eligibility, he is the future of Cardinals basketball.

“Coach has been telling me all year to ‘assert and exert’ and that’s what I tried to do,” Love said. “This loss really hurts, because we all feel it was a game we should’ve won.

“We didn’t play defense like we can and on some possessions, we gave them two or three shots. That shouldn’t have happened.”

Bonfigli had to round up crutches so Sharp could leave the gym. Orthopedist Steve Smith was treating McCall’s shoulder.

“Bobby Sharp is as tough as any kid I’ve coached in my 30 plus years in this game,” the coach said of the senior. “His ankle is so swollen, he can’t walk. Yet, he was running up and down the court.”

Newman finished the season 24-6 and captured the North Bay League Tournament.

“We had a great season but this game will stay with me a long time,” Bonfigli said. “You can’t give up that many points and expect to win.

“I don’t know how many times they beat us on the pick-and-roll. We used bad judgment on defense and offense.

“Everyone worked so hard this season and we should be going on and we’re not.”