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High school basketball: It’s tournament time in the Empire

By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The holidays and accompanying fall rainstorms are here, and that means high school basketball tournaments in the Redwood Empire are in full bloom.

Here’s a look at this weekend’s tournaments, which run Thursday through Saturday unless otherwise noted.

12th Annual Russ Peterich Viking Tip-Off Classic (boys) at Montgomery

For local fans, the eight-team field is headlined by Cardinal Newman and Montgomery, who will compete with six strong out-of-town teams. The format includes a winner’s and loser’s bracket and each team is guaranteed three games. Last year’s tournament was won by Campolindo over Monte Vista in the championship game.

Cardinal Newman plays Redwood at 7 tonight followed by host Montgomery’s first-round game against Vista del Lago at 8:30. The championship is 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Montgomery coach Tom Fitchie said this could be the strongest field in the tournament’s history. Seven of the eight teams made the North Coast Section playoffs last year, and Campolindo and Cardinal Newman were in the NorCal championship.

“How often do you get this number of quality basketball teams together at one time in Sonoma County? Not very often,” Fitchie said. “I take pride in this tournament. Most of the teams that participate come back and tell us how much they loved playing in it.”

Fitchie said he would like to see improved attendance at tournament games.

“Attendance has not been very good in the past,” Fitchie said. “It should be a good year this year for attendance unless the rain keeps people away.”

Dragon Classic (girls) at Sonoma Valley

Also featuring eight teams, this tournament is in its 17th season and is the longest running girls-only basketball tournament in the Redwood Empire. Local teams include Montgomery, Analy and host Sonoma. The tournament also features a loser’s bracket and thus each team will play three games. The championship will be 6 p.m. Saturday.

Analy plays Northgate at 5:30 p.m. today, followed by the Vikings — last year’s tournament winner — at 7 p.m. versus Menlo-Atherton. Sonoma closes out tonight’s action hosting Terra Linda at 8:30.

“The beauty of this tournament is that teams keep coming back to play in it,” Sonoma coach Sil Coccia said. “The majority of schools playing are returners and that is a testament to the quality of the competition. The awards we give are high quality and people like coming to Sonoma.”

The diverse field represents six different leagues from three different NorCal sections.

45th Annual Fred Iten Invitational (boys) at Ukiah

A similar format to the other tournaments, the Invitational features eight teams and two brackets. Play starts today with three of the eight teams being local. Piner plays Novato at 3:30 p.m. and Ukiah and Petaluma face off at 6:30 p.m. The championship is 5 p.m. Saturday. Dougherty Valley defeated Ukiah in last year’s title game.

“The games were all very competitive last year,” tournament director Matt Ferrick said. “It’s always been hard to get teams to come to Ukiah to stay overnight because it’s a little bit out of the way. But seven of the eight teams have returned so that is a good sign.”

Perhaps the highlight of the tournament is a 3-point shooting contest and dunking competition by some of the participants at a Friday lunchtime rally in front of the Ukiah student body.

Redwood Classic Tournament (boys) at Anderson Valley

This 16-team tournament featuring Division 5 and 6 schools is the oldest (55th year) and largest small-school tournament in California. Play began Wednesday and culminates with the championship at 9 p.m. Saturday. Last year’s tournament was won by Stuart Hall.

Four teams will play two games and 12 teams will play three or four games. The tournament will feature 25 total games. Sonoma County teams St. Vincent and Cloverdale will be joined by Mendocino County’s Point Arena, Laytonville, Mendocino and host Anderson Valley, plus far-away teams like Tulelake and Fremont’s California School for the Deaf.

“This tournament has a long tradition. A lot of high-caliber basketball from small schools has been played in this gym,” Anderson Valley athletic director Robert Pinoli said. “There are a lot of strong teams in this tournament that you will see in the state finals.”

Sutter Home Tournament (boys) at St. Helena

This tournament is in its 41st year and features eight teams from Divisions 4 and 5 and all from the North Coast Section. All teams will play three games with championship and consolation brackets. The title game will be 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Host St. Helena defeated Middletown last year for the title.

The field includes Healdsburg and Roseland Prep from Sonoma County, Willits from Mendocino County, Middletown from Lake County, and Calistoga and St. Helena from Napa County.

“For small schools this is a pretty competitive tournament,” St. Helena athletic director Tom Hoppe said. “This year’s field is a little above average as far as caliber of teams.”

Stokes Invitational (girls and boys) at Kelseyville

Kelseyville High’s annual tournament, in its 41st year, is actually two separate tournaments, with boys and girls alternating games each day. Lower Lake and Kelseyville’s girls tip off at 9 this morning, with games starting every 90 minutes before Kelseyville’s boys team hosts Woodside in the first-round finale at 7:30 p.m.

Participants are guaranteed three games. The girls championship is 6 p.m. Saturday, while the boys tip off at 7:30 p.m.

TOURNAMENT TIME
Here’s a look at Thursday’s high school basketball tournament games. All tournaments run through Saturday.

BOYS

Russ Peterich Viking Tip-Off Classic
At Montgomery High

Campolindo vs. Cordova, 4 p.m.
Liberty vs. Monte Vista, 5:30 p.m.
Cardinal Newman vs. Redwood, 7 p.m.
Montgomery vs. Vista del Lago, 8:30 p.m.

Fred Iten Invitational
At Ukiah

Piner vs. Novato, 3:30 p.m.
Fort Bragg vs. San Lorenzo, 5:30 p.m.
Ukiah vs. Petaluma, 6:30 p.m.
Dougherty Valley vs. Fortuna. 8 p.m.

Redwood Classic (Day 2)
At Anderson Valley

California School for the Deaf vs. Stuart Hall, 3:30 p.m.
Hoopa Valley vs. Cloverdale, 5 p.m.
Tulelake vs. Bentley, 6:30 p.m.
St. Vincent vs. Pinewood, 8 p.m.

Sutter Home Tournament
At St. Helena

Healdsburg vs. Middletown, 4 p.m.
Roseland Prep vs. Willits, 5:30 p.m.
St. Bernard’s vs. Swett, 7 p.m.
Calistoga vs. St. Helena, 8:30 p.m.

Stokes Invitational
At Kelseyville

Elsie Allen vs. Colusa, 10:30 a.m.
Clear Lake vs. Technical, 1:30 p.m.
Justin Siena vs. South Fork, 4:30 p.m.
Woodside vs. Kelseyville, 7:30 p.m.

GIRLS

Dragon Classic
At Sonoma Valley

San Marin vs. Vintage, 4 p.m.
Analy vs. Northgate, 5:30 p.m.
Montgomery vs. Menlo-Atherton, 7 p.m.
Sonoma Valley vs. Terra Linda, 8:30 p.m.

Stokes Invitational
At Kelseyville

Lower Lake vs. Kelseyville, 9 a.m.
St. Helena vs. Ferndale, noon
South Fork vs. Woodside, 3 p.m.
Cloverdale vs. Arcata at Kelseyville, 6 p.m.

Willits Classic
Willits vs. El Molino, 3:30 p.m.
Ukiah vs. Fortuna, 5 p.m.
Cardinal Newman vs. Healdsburg, 6:30 p.m.
Berean Christian vs. Piedmont, 8 p.m.

Lady Cougar Classic*
At Upper Lake

Kelseyville JV vs. Upper Lake JV, 3 p.m.
Potter Valley JV vs. Fort Bragg JV
Potter Valley vs. Fort Bragg, 6 p.m.
Round Valley vs. Upper Lake, 7:30 p.m.

*Lady Cougar Classic features varsity and JV squads.