By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — In a game for crosstown bragging rights Saturday night, Casa Grande’s girls basketball team took advantage of first-half turnovers by visiting Petaluma and went on to score a 48-35 nonleague victory.
Benefitting from 16 first-half miscues by the Trojans, Casa opened a 22-12 halftime lead, and the margin never got below eight after intermission.
Meagan Burke, who led the Gauchos with a career-high 17 points, said the rivalry had a lot to do with her team’s first-half performance.
“We were pumped at the start,” the senior guard said. “We weren’t nervous, just excited to be playing Petaluma. Everyone knows everyone from the other team, so it was a matter of pride.”
Casa managed to win even though its best player sat out. Brooke Santander, who had missed several games with a knee injury, warmed up but was unable to go.
“Everyone stepped up their game to make up for Brooke not being able to play,” Burke said. “To me, this game was the high point of the season.”
Burke knocked down three 3-point baskets.
“I like to shoot 3s, but I hadn’t had much success lately,” she said. “I made one early in the game and that, plus the crowd, got me going.”
The gym was nearly packed with a large group of students from both schools each occupying opposite sides of the court.
Joy Jovick also finished in double figures for the Gauchos with 10.
Petaluma was led by Allison Scranton, the tallest player on the court at 6-foot, with 12.
Trojans coach Doug Johnson credited Casa’s defense for causing his team to make so many turnovers.
“Their defense had a lot to do with our being unable to hold onto the ball,” he said. “Once we fall behind, we have trouble coming back because we just don’t have the firepower.”
Petaluma got off 32 shots compared to 49 for Casa
The Gauchos used a match-up zone and that forced the Trojans into numerous situations where they traveled or threw the ball away.
“We felt we had to disrupt them with our defense,” Casa coach Dan Sack said.
“Our guards did a really good job on their guards and they weren’t able to get the ball down low to Scranton with any regularity.
“This was our fourth game without Santander and we’ve won three of those. I’m so proud of the girls for stepping up.”
Casa Grande is now 13-8 and resumes NBL play on Monday when Windsor comes to town.
The Trojans fall to 12-10 and get back to SCL competition on Monday at Piner.