League tournaments kick off basketball postseason

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

With the NBL and SCL regular seasons history, the best girls and boys basketball teams are gearing up for the postseason.

This week, it’s league tournaments and then Feb. 24, North Coast Section begins. After that, it’s the CIF State Tournament.

Opening round girls action is Tuesday with the boys games beginning Wednesday.

Cardinal Newman should have no trouble winning the NBL girls trophy. The Cardinals beat NBL foes by an average of 39 points per game while racking up a 14-0 record. Montgomery, tonight’s foe, has lost 74-32, and 65-37, to Newman.

Even though the Cardinals are heavy favorites to win the league tournament, coach Monica Mertle says her girls are revved up for the postseason.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We’ve been looking forward to playoffs for a while.”

A young team with only three seniors, the Cardinals have won 15 consecutive games and are good enough to go a long way in the postseason.

Sonoma Valley, a surprise winner of the SCL, has impressed coach Sil Coccia in recent weeks.

“No one expected us to be where we’re at now,” he said. “The girls aren’t satisfied and are definitely  not ready to hang it up.

“The thing I like best about this team is the workmanlike approach they have in practice.

“The competition is tougher in the playoffs, but this group is ready for the challenge.”

Looking at the boys divisions, top-seeded Cardinal Newman and Elsie Allen figure to get tested.

Newman tied with Montgomery for the league crown but got the No. 1 seed because of a preseason drawing. If both teams win Wednesday, they’ll play for the tournament title Friday at Santa Rosa JC.

The girls championship will also be decided at SRJC with that game tipping off at 6:30 p.m., followed by the boys game at 8:15 p.m.

The Newman boys, winners of seven in a row, are 24-2 with one of those losses coming to Windsor.

After losing on the Jaguars’ court, the Cardinals got revenge (55-42) on Feb. 3 playing at home.

In the SCL, Elsie Allen is coming off its first regular season title in the school’s 20-year history.

The Lobos have won 11 in a row and are playing their best basketball of the season.

“Getting Joe Hoeup back a couple of weeks ago has improved us,” coach Madison Lott said. Hoeup, a shooting guard, broke his left ankle early in the season.

“The guys were happy when they won the regular season title,”  Lott said. “However, none of them are satisfied. They want a long run in the postseason.”

The SCL girls finals will be played Thursday with the higher-seed hosting. The boys champion will be crowned Friday.

Cardinal Newman’s Jasmine Henderson, right, goes to the basket as Santa Rosa’s Kylie Oden defends. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Cardinal Newman’s Jasmine Henderson, right, goes to the basket as Santa Rosa’s Kylie Oden defends. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)