High school boys basketball: Cardinal Newman, Montgomery share NBL crown

Cardinal Newman's Jamon Roberts grabs a rebound while Casa Grande's Will Crain grabs his arm in the first half on Friday night. (Photo by John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Cardinal Newman’s Jamon Roberts grabs a rebound while Casa Grande’s Will Crain grabs his arm in the first half on Friday night. (Photo by John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

By HOWARD SENZELL

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cardinal Newman and Montgomery both needed road wins Friday night in order to share the NBL regular-season title — and both came through.

The Cardinals upended Casa Grande, 57-50, while Montgomery defeated Santa Rosa, 66-42. Both games were played in front of standing-room-only crowds.

Newman will receive the league’s automatic invitation to the NCS tournament based on a drawing before the season started.

In the NBL tournament beginning next Wednesday, the Cardinals will host Windsor, while Montgomery entertains Casa Grande.

(See more photos from the Cardinal Newman-Casa Grande game)

Newman took the lead early against Casa Grande and held a 45-34 edge going to the fourth quarter.

The Gauchos cut the margin to seven in the final period but could get no closer.

Four Newman players finished in double figures, led by James Ryan with 14 points. Damian Wallace came off the bench to score 12, while Justin Botteri had 11 and Connor Rubattino 10.

Jon Christy had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Casa Grande.

It was career win No. 697 for Cardinals coach Tom Bonfigli, as well as the school’s 22nd NBL title.

“It was a loud, hot gym and our kids rose to the occasion,” Bonfigli said. “We executed well against a very good team on their court. We shot 55 percent from the floor and turned the ball over only six times. On defense, I thought our pressure seemed to bother them.”

Gauchos coach James Forni wasn’t happy with the way his team played.

“Overall, Newman stepped up and we didn’t,” he said. “They communicated well and we didn’t. I think that was a big reason we weren’t successful.”

Casa Grande ends the regular season 17-9 and 11-3 in league. Newman is 24-2 and 12-2.

The Montgomery-Santa Rosa game was also played in front of a packed gym.

Six-foot-11 Erik Poulsen was nearly perfect for the Vikings. En route to a 32-point game, he made 13 of 14 field goal attempts.

“We couldn’t stop him,” Panthers coach John McGill said. “He got the ball down low and either made a basket or was fouled.”

Montgomery led 14-11 after one quarter and increased the lead to 33-18 at intermission.

Max Hedges scored 11 points for Santa Rosa.