By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
After years of overflow crowds that led to some boys basketball fans being turned away from packed gyms, perennial North Bay League powers Cardinal Newman and Montgomery will play this season’s head-to-head matchups at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The first game tips off at 7:30 p.m. Monday, having been rescheduled from Tuesday at Cardinal Newman.
Longtime Cardinal Newman and Montgomery coaches Tom Bonfigli and Tom Fitchie said they hope the change in venue will allow more fans to see the games and make for a playoff-type atmosphere.
“We’ve had some really exciting games, very close games,” Fitchie said. “That was my thing, ‘Can we get into a bigger gym and have more people watch the game?’”
Bonfigli agreed and added that the larger SRJC venue will help prepare the Cardinals for big games to come.
Haehl Pavilion hosts the NBL tournament and sometimes North Coast Section playoff games.
“It’s not inconceivable that … we could be playing a big game at the JC in the sectional playoffs,” Bonfigli said.
Regularly two of the top teams in the Redwood Empire, the Vikings and Cardinals head into Monday’s matchup as two of the best teams in the section.
The Vikings are 12-3, 4-0 in league, having suffered two losses in the highly competitive Holiday Classic in San Diego. The Cardinals are 14-2, 4-0, having lost to Acalanes and East Bay power Monte Vista, which also beat Montgomery.
“It’s the first time I can remember two teams around here being rated as high as the two teams are rated,” Fitchie said.
Tickets for Monday’s game will be $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for students.
The schools’ Feb. 4 boys varsity game, originally to be played at Montgomery, will also be held at SRJC.
Freshman and JV games that night may be moved up by an hour to allow fans to drive from Montgomery to the JC. Tuesday’s freshman and JV games will be played at their originally scheduled times of 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Cardinal Newman.
Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat’s online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 and firstname.lastname@example.org.