Casa Grande loses to Las Lomas

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — When Las Lomas coach Jeff Loving looked at the scoreboard after his Knights defeated Casa Grande, 69-50, in a North Coast Section Division 2 boys basketball game Wednesday night, he did a double take.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be a one-sided win,” Loving said. “Of course, I played the game over in my mind countless times beforehand and I just never imagined it would’ve played out this way.

“I thought coming into their gym, it would be a very difficult for us. We played one of our best games of the year and look how it turned out.”

Loving had every reason to be apprehensive going into the game. Casa had been 14-0 on its home court and had won 12 straight en route to the Sonoma County League title and the No. 2 seed.
Las Lomas, champs of the Diablo Foothill Athletic League, was the No. 3 seed.
The Walnut Creek invaders took control of the game with an 18-1 run midway through the first half.

With the score 9-9 and 3:30 left in the first quarter, two free throws by Treaven Duffy put Las Lomas up for good. Over the next 6:30, the Gauchos fell behind 27-10.
The capacity crowd tried to rally the home team, but Casa could get no closer than 41-27 with 4:38 left in the third.

The Knights shot 53 percent from the field, including nine of 17 from 3-point territory. They were also good from the free throw line, hitting 10 of 14.
Casa Grande coach James Forni said his players missed nine lay-ups in the first half. For the game, they connected on 16 of 43 from the field for 37 per cent. The Gauchos did enjoy a big edge in free throws, going to the line 31 times and making 18.

It seemed like we couldn’t knock down any shots and they were on fire,” Forni said. “Those lay-ups we missed could’ve kept it close and then once they got in front, their confidence grew.
Kevin Staffard drained six 3-pointers for the Knights and wound up 24, nine above his average. Duffy also had 24.

“Duffy killed us,” Forni said. “He’d drive to the basket and if we’d double or triple team him, he’d kick it out to an open man. If he had an opening, he’d finish the play himself.”
Josh Hayworth and Joey Rodriguez had 13 apiece for Casa and Nick Sherry had 12.

“We had our hearts set on winning NCS,” Hayworth said. “We’re all hurting inside. We just couldn’t hit shots and they did. It wasn’t our night.”
Casa enjoyed a height advantage and Las Lomas negated that by playing up tempo.

“We ran every time we had a chance,” Loving said. “We were able to control that and once we got ahead, Casa couldn’t take the time to work inside for shots.”
The Gauchos are now 26-5 while Las Lomas is 25-4.