By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Kenny Love returned to the Cardinal Newman High boys basketball lineup Tuesday in a game at Analy after being out with an ankle injury. Fast-forward to Saturday night, and the after-effects of that injury seem to have disappeared.
Love led the Cardinals with 21 and was named a co-MVP of the Rose City Classic, which Newman won with a 59-51 victory over St. Mary’s of Albany.
Love said he had the ankle treated during the middle of the week but wasn’t sure how it was going to hold up at first. He was happy to be back on the court after sitting out last week’s Russ Peterich Classic.
“It was pretty tough not being able to be out there with my guys, so I’m glad to be back helping them out,” Love said.
Newman coach Tom Bonfigli said Love steps up when the Cardinals are in the spotlight.
“Kenny’s been the best in big games,” he said.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 9-3 lead midway through the first quarter, but the Cardinals charged back with a 7-0 run to take a 10-9 lead after the first quarter.
The teams exchanged baskets for most of the second quarter, but Newman pulled away in the closing minutes. The Cardinals went on a 7-0 run, sparked by a Love basket, followed by Sean Martin’s 3-pointer and capped with Corey Hammell’s field goal to end the half.
Newman then held St. Mary’s scoreless for the first 4:07 of the second half, jumping out to a 36-19 lead. The Panthers then went on their best run of the game, scoring 15 points in the last four minutes of the third quarter and holding the Cardinals to two to make it a five-point game heading into the fourth quarter.
“They weren’t going to quit playing,” Bonfigli said. “They play really, really hard. They came back on us and cut it to three. Our guys had a lot of composure when it got to three and I thought we out-played them down the stretch.”
St. Mary’s wouldn’t get any closer, as the Cardinals put the game out of reach by pulling out to a 12-point lead midway through the fourth.
Hammell, the tournament’s co-MVP, finished with 17.
“I think Corey deserved to be the co-MVP because he’s been there at every game this season,” Bonfigli said. “He’s been our heart and soul, Corey has. I think that was good that they gave them co-MVPs. Kenny had an exceptional game tonight, Corey had an exceptional game last night.”
Newman plays at Justin-Siena at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Rose City Tournament
Cardinal Newman 59, St. Mary’s 51
San Marin 73, Redwood 63
El Molino 50, Windsor 43
Santa Rosa 57, Rancho Cotate 51