NBL boys basketball: Casa Grande starts hot then outlasts Ukiah 67-55


The Casa Grande boys basketball team put on its best show of shooting Thursday night in Petaluma as a big first half carried the Gauchos to a 67-55 win over Ukiah.

“This is my 35th year on varsity,” Ukiah head coach Bill Heath said, “and I’ve never seen a team shoot that well. Oh man. I even asked if our defense was that bad, but no.”

The contest featured hot hands from both teams. Casa Grande and Ukiah combined for 15 3-pointers by the end of the night.

“When everyone is hitting it like that,” Gauchos player Jon Christy said of the shootout, “it fuels everyone else.”

With six 3-pointers by the hosts, and a strong dunk from Will Crain that delighted the home crowd, the Gauchos jumped out to a 28-15 lead and finished the first half leading 47-23. Crain wound up with 13 points, six rebounds and one block.

“The energy in the building was just wild. We were just feeding off each other,” Casa Grande’s Cetrick Yeaney said.

An underdog coming into the game, Casa Grande forced the Wildcats into 10 turnovers. The adjustments made on defense, Yeaney said, were the keys to limiting their offense.

“Last time we played them, they were killing us on the outside,” Yeaney said. “We had to go into a zone to stop that.”

The defense was key in transitions as the Gauchos converted fast breaks into shooting opportunities, Gauchos head coach James Forni said.

“We made good reads on their defense and were very unselfish, and guys just knocked down the open shots,” he said.

Ukiah didn’t back down, despite a significant deficit heading into the second half, and the Wildcats cut the deficit to 12. They out rebounded the Gauchos 25-22, but the clock spoiled their rally and the first-half deficit was too much to overcome.

“The kids never quit, so I’m really proud of them for that,” Heath said. “I was proud of the teamwork in that second half.”

Yeaney led the shootout for Casa Grande with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Jon Christy recorded 14 points and seven rebounds, while Tyler Nadolski finished with 11 points. Jack Micco ended the night with two 3-pointers and Daniel Greisen had four points.

“Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t,” Forni said about the show of offense. “Tonight we just did.”

Gabe Knight led the Wildcats with 15 points and Adrian Mata had 13, while each player snagged three rebounds. Brian Sherwood led the rally for Ukiah with 10 of his 12 points recorded in the second half. He also led all players with 11 rebounds.

Ben Carter hit two 3-pointers in his first varsity game with the Wildcats, and David Mason also had three points. Sammy Mora chipped in a bucket, as well.

Casa Grande improved its record to 12-11 overall and 4-6 in the North Bay League. Ukiah dropped to 14-8 overall and 5-5 in conference play.

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