By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SONOMA — Playing to keep their season alive, the Analy girls notched a big road win Thursday over Sonoma Valley that will draw notice when section basketball playoff bids are decided.
Win again Saturday in the Sonoma County League tournament finals and Analy should be in the North Coast Sectionals. To beat regular season champion Petaluma will require the active defense, solid rebounding and sharp shooting that carried the Tigers to the 54-48 win at Sonoma Valley.
“We had nothing to lose. It was go hard or go home,” said Shelby Buchmann, who shared team-high scoring honors with Jenna Petray at 13 apiece.
The Analy post pair helped limit Sonoma Valley’s sophomore duo of Delaney Swanson and Mackenzie Albrecht from carrying the Dragons to a third consecutive win over the Tigers this season. A blistering second period with Mikenna Martin scoring all 11 of her points put Analy ahead to stay.
“We just kind of lost the momentum and we didn’t fight back,” said Swanson, who led Sonoma Valley with 19 on the night. “We’re just going to hit practice hard for playoffs.”
At home in the SCL tournament semifinals, Sonoma Valley came out with the game plan and grit needed to prepare for the North Coast Section playoffs. Swinging strong passes and working well around the basket, the Dragons took the first period.
Still, it was hard work. Analy helped with too many turnovers on offense.
Once the Tigers stopped forcing passes inside and spaced better with the ball, finding open shots and driving lanes, Analy took control in the second quarter. Scoring eight unanswered and then a 13-0 run carried the Tigers to a 27-point period, their best on the season.
“We just have to play as a team to keep the season going,” Petray said.
Hot shooting was half of the story. Martin hit all three of her second-quarter 3-point attempts. Petray showed off a soft midrange jumper for big shots throughout the contest.
What turned the game Analy’s way with the score still close was an active defense that limited Sonoma Valley’s push with the ball. Athletic across the court, the Dragons want to score in transition. Analy pressed enough, allowing the Tigers to get back on defense.
Second-chance points also were hard to come by for Sonoma Valley with Analy often cleaning up on the defensive boards.
“We focused on the help defense. We definitely needed to locate their key shooters,” Buchmann said.
Not that Sonoma Valley was surprised, knowing Analy reeled off scoring runs in the past contests. But the Dragons couldn’t overcome a turnover-filled second quarter, answering too late in the game.
“We do well inside with the ball,” Swanson said. “But we were rushing it and trying to make things happen too fast.”
Working back from a 15-point deficit, Sonoma Valley was within seven on an Albrecht putback midway through the third period.
Then the Tigers pushed the lead back to a dozen with four players scoring.
A pair of Swanson free throws cut Analy’s lead to eight with just over four minutes to go in the final period.
Analy answered Sonoma Valley’s scoring during an up and down finish with Petray and Jessie Davidson keeping the Tigers ahead.
A young team learning together at the varsity level, Analy is playing its best when games count the most.
“We’ve been a little up and down. We’ve been picking it up later in the season,” Buchmann said.
Patience and confidence are at a premium in the postseason.
“We came out with intensity and just to win,” Petray said. “This game was really good for us.”