By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cardinal Newman and Monte Vista both survived close games Friday and will play for the Russ Peterich Viking Tip-Off Classic championship tonight.
The Cardinals edged Campolindo, 50-46, while Monte Vista eked out a 51-48 win over host Montgomery.
The Vikings, after trailing 47-35 early in the fourth quarter, nearly came back from the deficit. They cut the Cougars’ lead to one with 1:25 to play and even had the ball twice in the final seconds with a chance to win the game.
However, first Noah Orlick’s 3-point shot rimmed out. Then, following a missed free throw by the Mustangs’ Trevor John, Montgomery got the rebound and started a fast break. However, a turnover gave the ball back to Monte Vista and forced the Vikings to foul. Nico Zamora then hit two free throws and Alec Raven missed a potential tying shot from half court at the buzzer.
“We’re a young team and we showed growth coming back,” coach Tom Fitchie said. “That was a good team we played, so coming back like we did showed me something.
“I’m happy where my team is at this point.”
Alec Raven led the Vikings in score with 15. Orlick had a dozen and Tyler Newman came off the bench to score seven.
John was the only Monte Vista player in double figures. The junior had 15.
In the other championship game bracket, Cardinal Newman, despite having two starters in street clothes nursing injuries, managed to defeat defending champ Campolindo.
Kenny Love, the team’s leading scorer, sat out with a twisted ankle suffered in Thursday’s opening round. Kyle King, recuperating from a torn meniscus, also had the night off.
“Love isn’t going to play in the championship, but King will get minutes,” coach Tom Bonfigli said.
After trailing, 18-12, early in the second quarter, the Cardinals went on a 13-0 run midway through the period.
In the second half, Campolindo led only once, 34-32.
However, five straight points by Chris Hammell put Newman in front for good. The 6-foot-6 senior nailed a 3-pointer and scored a fast break bucket.