By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
After a slow start, the Piner High boys basketball team came out on the better end of its Sonoma County League opener with a 65-58 victory over Petaluma on Friday.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, failing to top 25 points, but the pace picked up after halftime with the Prospectors (6-5, 1-0 SCL) scoring 40 and the Trojans (1-13, 0-2) notching 39.
Piner had to dig out of an early 7-0 hole to start the game. The Trojans held the Prospectors scoreless until a 3-pointer by Keith Adams gave Piner its first points of the game.
“Anytime we start out (down) 7-0 that’s not a good sign but I thought that we were ready to play so I thought we’d get it going,” Prospectors coach Mike Erickson said.
Piner went to a full-court press not long after it dug itself in that hole.
The defensive pressure helped the Prospectors go on a 8-1 run to tie the game. They trailed by three at the end of the first quarter.
Petaluma had no answer for the press as it was applied through the second quarter, failing to score until a Clay Swanson hit a bucket two minutes before halftime.
The Prospectors went into the locker room with a six-point lead. Erickson thought the pressure helped turn the game back into Piner’s favor.
“Our pressure was causing problems and it got us going a little bit, he said. “We didn’t get out to a good start and all of a sudden we went to the press, got a few balls knocked loose, got a few easy buckets because of it. That kind of jump-started us.”
After three quarters, Piner had boosted its lead to 11 and extended it to as much as 14 in the fourth quarter until a late run by Petaluma in the closing minutes of regulation shrank it back to six points with 48 seconds left.
By that point it was too little, too late.
Marquise Camp and Keith Adams led the Prospectors with 15 points each.
Trojans’ coach John Behrs wants the first quarter back.
“I think in the first quarter we could have put up some big numbers in the first couple minutes of the game.
“We missed some layups, we missed some wide open shots … I think it was 7-7 and I think at that point we could have had 20 points,” he said.
Behrs wants the team to play a complete game, rather than playing well in spurts.
“For us to turn the corner, we got to play four solid good quarters of basketball,” he said.
“Not three or two-and-a-half or whatever we played today.”
Petaluma hosts Healdsburg next Wednesday while Piner will prepare to play Elsie Allen on Monday.