Boys basketball: Sonoma County Classic set to tip off

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Five Sonoma County schools plus defending champ Acalanes will be in action Thursday when the 32nd Sonoma County Classic tips off at Piner High.

“We have a solid bracket with no clear-cut favorite,” Prospectors coach Mike Erickson said. “I’m expecting mostly good, competitive games.”

The Classic will continue through Saturday with each of the eight teams guaranteed three games.

A look at the field:

Acalanes (6-3)

Last year, the Dons showed up in Santa Rosa with a 2-8 record and left town with the championship trophy and a 5-8 mark. In the title game, they came up with one of the biggest upsets in Classic history when they defeated Cardinal Newman 57-55. Buster Souza, now a 6-foot-8 senior, was selected the most valuable player.

Cardinal Newman (5-4)

The Cardinals have something to prove. In December, they suffered opening round losses in two tournaments (Rose City and Russ Peterich). There’s reason for optimism as they’ve won three straight. One reason for the turnaround is that the football players on the team, including starter Connor Rubatino, have now rounded into basketball shape. Newman hasn’t played since Dec. 20.

Rancho Cotate (3-6)

A closer look at the Cougars’ record shows they’ve been in every game except two. Sophomore Moziah Ward has done an admirable job filling in for Michael Wambold (torn ACL) and 6-foot-3 Joseph Fowler has become a force on the boards.

Healdsburg (4-7)

The Greyhounds have lost six of their last seven, including a 59-41 home loss to Cloverdale on Monday.

Santa Rosa (5-3)

The Panthers have been up and down. They looked good winning at Vintage 52-48, but turned in a dull effort losing to Cardinal Newman 62-27. Dustin Rome leads the team in scoring (14 per game) and total rebounds (82).

Eureka (2-5)

The Loggers hosted a tournament before Christmas and defeated Yreka 63-39 in the opening round, only to lose the next night to Arcata, 49-45. They defeated Rancho Cotate in last year’s Sonoma County Classic.

Mt. Eden (2-6)

The Monarchs have lost four straight. Last year in the Classic, they beat Rancho and Santa Rosa while losing to Newman.

Piner (4-5)

The Prospectors started the season 4-1, but have since lost six of seven. Coach Mike Erickson describes his team as “tiny,” so rebounding is a problem. Their strength has been perimeter shooting.

SCHEDULE

Sonoma County Classic

At Piner High School

Thursday’s games

Rancho Cotate vs. Acalanes, 4 p.m.

Cardinal Newman vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m.

Healdsburg vs. Mt. Eden, 7 p.m.

Santa Rosa vs. Piner, 8:30 p.m.

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