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NBL boys basketball: Lesson for Newman players after win over Pumas

By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Cardinal Newman high boys basketball team blew out cross-town rival Maria Carrillo in dominating fashion, 61-32, Friday night, but Cardinals coach Tom Bonfigli wanted to make one thing clear to his players after his post-game locker room meeting with his team: Be at St. Eugene’s Cathedral today at 1:30 p.m.

Why? To attend the funeral of Darryl Ellingson, a man who coached Bonfigli when he attended Newman in the early 1970s and helped the coach go undefeated as a Cardinals quarterback.

“My whole team is going because at Cardinal Newman, we give respects,” Bonfigli said. “If you’re a Cardinal Newman person, my team will be there.”

The team will meet and practice this morning from 8:30 a.m. to noon in preparation for its big game with Montgomery on Monday before heading to Ellingson’s service.

“I just think it’s important for young people … the game is important, winning is important, life is a lot more important,” Bonfigli said. “At our school, God is the most important. I try to teach my kids God and family, and he’s part of our family.”

Corey Hammell, who led the Cardinals with 18 points and 11 rebounds, said Ellingson’s bond with Bonfigli connects him to the entire team.

“If he supported (Bonfigli) he’s important to us as a team,” Hammell said. “We’re going to go out and show our support.”

As for the game, the Pumas had no answer for the Cardinals’ stiff defense, scoring seven points in the opening quarter and just two in the third. Hammell and Kenny Love outscored the entire Carrillo team with nine points each in the first.

Despite the team records showing Newman to be a favorite, Bonfigli didn’t think the game would be this cut-and-dry.

“We got a big game against Montgomery on Monday night,” Bonfigli said. “I talked to the kids that this could be a trap game before a big game. We need to come out with good energy and need to play as hard as we could.”

The Cardinals did in a near-full capacity game at the Pumas’ home court. Carrillo coach Will Parker said the Pumas had a hard time adjusting to the pressure Newman was applying. The Cardinals pushed the lead to 20 points in the second quarter and 30 in the final stanza.

“They’re a tough team,” Parker said. “They have a great defense. They’re incredibly active on defense.”

Newman hosts Montgomery at SRJC next Monday at 7:30 p.m., while Carrillo plays at Windsor at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.