NBL boys basketball: Vikings surprise Newman 50-40

By HOWARD SENZELL

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

What a difference Michael Septimo has made in the Montgomery-Cardinal Newman series this season.

The point guard missed the first meeting with a right knee injury and Newman won by 20 points. The senior played Wednesday night and the visiting Vikings won 50-40.

In his second game back from the injury, Septimo scored 32 points.

“I went into the game with the mindset that no one could guard me,” he said. “My teammates got me the ball for good shots.”

The Vikings led nearly all the way. The last time they trailed was at 4-3. Septimo scored 10 of his team’s 12 points in the first period.

By halftime, he had 19 and Montgomery was on top 26-19.

In the second half, the Cardinals could get no closer than four and that was early in the third.

Newman mounted a mini-rally in the fourth but a Septimo free throw and an over-the-head lay-up gave his team a seven-point lead. Then, a Jack Fitchie 3-pointer upped the advantage to 42-32.

Coach Tom Fitchie called Septimo’s effort exceptional.

“He’s only played and practiced four times since the injury right after Christmas,” Fitchie said. “He played against Santa Rosa on Monday and has practiced three times.

“He was special from everywhere. He hit from long range and inside. It was a rare performance.”

Newman coach Tom Bonfigli was also impressed.

“We let one guy beat us,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. We double-teamed him and he still got his points.”

The other storyline was how Montgomery’s defense kept Connor Rubattino under control. The forward scored nine, 10 points under his average. When the schools met Jan. 7 at the Vikings gym, he scored 28.

Jack Fitchie shadowed Rubattino this time. The Vikings changed defenses several times during the game with Fitchie always staying glued to his opponent.

The Cardinals shot only 25 percent from the field. Justin Botteri led the offense with 16.

Erik Poulsen, Montgomery’s 6-foot-11 center, scored seven and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Montgomery and Newman are now tied for second in the league with 6-2 records.

Casa Grande, which won at Santa Rosa on Wednesday night, leads the NBL pack with a 7-1 record.