NCS weekend previews

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Tough summer tournaments and difficult nonleague games prepared Montgomery for a deep playoff run that hits a higher gear tonight against Las Lomas in the NCS Division II boys’ final at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Rincon Valley Christian girls will play against St. Joseph Notre Dame for the NCS title. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

Facing a team that likes to push the pace much like Montgomery’s semifinal victim Northgate, the Vikings (27-2) have shown poise with experienced players who can take away what opponents like to do with the ball. Sound man-to-man defense has been Montgomery’s calling card to gain the top seed and win three section playoff contests by an average of 19 points.

“They’re a good offensive team. We’ve just got to make sure we play good defense,” said Alec Kobre, one of Montgomery’s four senior starters.

The Vikings’ game plan is keep opponents out of a comfort zone on offense and make them work hard on defense.

Unselfish play more often than not produces good shots for Montgomery, whether inside with big center Ben Freeland or outside with point guard Zack Templeton or Kobre on the wing. Slashing guard Quentin Mendoza is the fourth Vikings player averaging double digits in points during the playoffs.

“It seems like every one of those kids can shoot with a hand in their face. They’re solid,” said Concord coach Ted McDavitt following Montgomery’s opening-round win over the Minutemen.

The No. 3 seed, Las Lomas (25-4) took out second-seed Casa Grande to prevent an all-Sonoma County section final. The Knights ran out to a 19-point halftime lead and were never headed, with nearly three fourths of the scoring coming from Treaven Duffy and Kevin Stafford, a pair of athletic players.

Las Lomas won the tough Diablo Foothill Athletic League, well-represented with five teams in the section playoffs.

TODAY’S OTHER GAMES
NCS DIVISION V GIRLS FINAL

Familiar foes, Rincon Valley Christian fell to St. Joseph Notre Dame in an early-season tournament.

Three months later, the Eagles (29-2) are playing with confidence after turning up their defensive play and coming back to defeat Convent of Sacred Heart in the semifinals.

Point forward Arianna Hanson led the Eagles with 24 points. Joining Hanson as team leaders are two other seniors, post players Hannah Dolan and Claire Bailey, who each average double figures in points and rebounds.

Rincon Valley Christian is seeking a fourth section title.

St. Joseph Notre Dame (22-4) comes out of the very tough Bay Shore Athletic League and is one of the section’s top ranked teams among all schools.
The matchup is what the experts figured, seeding St. Joseph Notre Dame first and Rincon Valley Christian second.

NCS DIVISION VI GIRLS FINAL

Adding the ultra small-school division two years ago has been a boon for a pair of programs that hadn’t reached the section playoffs in years. That there are no California prep playoffs for Division VI teams makes this the contest for North Coast bragging rights.

Top-seed Tomales (18-8) played well against North Coast teams, with a handful of the Braves’ losses coming in close contests against league rivals and Division V playoff powers Rincon Valley Christian and Sonoma Academy.

A stingy defense — 15 steals a game — and rebounding — the Braves pull down 35 per contest — make Tomales tough to beat. On offense, eight players average 4 or more points a game led by Arika Martinoni with 10 and Chelsey Souza getting 9 a game. Martinoni leads in steals and rebounds from one of the Braves’ guard spots.

Despite a poor record, Ferndale (9-17) is the third seed, recognition for the Wildcats playing most of their games against larger schools. Ferndale is a balanced scoring squad with six players averaging 6 points a game led by Kaitlyn Regli and guard Amber Earlye, both hitting for 13 a game.

Playing nearly two thirds of games on the road, Ferndale is used to traveling. The Wildcats won their semifinal at St. Bernard Catholic.

SATURDAY’S GAME
NCS DIVISION VI BOYS FINAL

Overcoming a familiar section playoff foe in the semifinals, Rincon Valley Christian gets another opponent they know all too well.

On Wednesday, the Eagles (22-7) overcame a 17-point first-quarter deficit to defeat San Francisco Waldorf — the same team to end Rincon Valley Christian’s season in the section semifinals a year ago.

Stephen Fisher scored the game-winning shot on a full-court break for the 55-53 victory.

While leading scorer TJ Robert was limited to 9 points, point guard Kasey Cazet led with 16, Fisher had 11 points and nine rebounds and Garrett Robert added 10.

With a 19-point loss to Ferndale (19-6) in the Rincon Valley Christian tournament, the Eagles know they have to score more to keep pace with the Wildcats.

Still, the teams have very similar profiles. Rincon Valley Christian’s average winning margin is a very good10 points a game, and Ferndale’s is 13. Against common opponents, the Eagles are 5-1 and the Wildcats are 4-0.

So the section’s top two seeds were given byes in the first round and held form in two victories to reach the title game.

Ferndale looks to defend last year’s Division VI title. Rincon Valley Christian has one section championship.

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.