SCL boys basketball tournament: Elsie Allen breezes past Sonoma Valley to reach title game

Elsie Allen's Jalen Busby drives past Sonoma Valley's Cyle Caselli to the basket for two during the game held at Elsie Allen High School, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Elsie Allen’s Jalen Busby drives past Sonoma Valley’s Cyle Caselli to the basket for two during the game held at Elsie Allen High School, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By RICHARD J. MARCUS

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Wednesday night’s semifinal game of the SCL boys basketball tournament between Sonoma Valley and Elsie Allen was effectively over by the end of the first quarter.

The top-seeded Lobos (22-5, 11-1), who won the SCL regular season, came out banging the boards and getting close-in buckets while Sonoma Valley (11-15, 6-6) started the game with hands of stone and couldn’t buy a basket or a rebound.

The result was a 15-2 Lobos lead at the end of the first quarter that propelled them to a 60-37 win and a matchup on Friday at 7 p.m. hosting No. 2 Piner.

“I thought our defense was pretty good in the first quarter and we executed well offensively in the first quarter,” Lobos coach Madison Lott said. “We had a size advantage over them (Sonoma).”

The Prospectors defeated Analy, 60-52, in the other SCL tournament semifinal on Wednesday. Piner won the first regular season meeting with Elsie Allen by six points and the Lobos returned the favor in the rematch at Piner with a 16-point victory.

“Elsie-Piner is a big rivalry. It is always a tough game,” Lobos forward Jalen Busby said. “We have to push the ball in transition against Piner and get them in foul trouble because we have a better bench then they do.”

Busby, averaging 21 points per game, scored 20 points against the Dragons and took charge offensively by slashing down the lane for layups or dishing for wide-open assists.

(See more photos from the game)

“We had a problem stopping Busby in the second quarter,” Sonoma coach Dennis Housman said. “We couldn’t keep him from driving the lane or rebounding.”

“Busby sees the court really well,” Lott said. “Jalen has answered the bell 27 times this year and has been ready to play in every game.”

Meanwhile, Sonoma’s offensive leader, Cyle Caselli — who came in with a scoring average in the mid-teens — was bottled up by the Lobos defense and scored only two points.

“We really focused on stopping him (Caselli),” Busby said. “We also concentrated on defensive rebounds because Sonoma got some offensive boards the last time we played them.”

Ryan Fisher led Sonoma with 11 points and Max Gustafson chipped in 8 points.

In addition to Busby’s 20, the Lobos’ scoring came from Erik DeLeon and Nickolas Hercules (8 points each), and Joe Hoeup (6 points).

Elsie Allen went 4-0 against Sonoma this season and Thursday’s installment was just more frustration for the Dragons.

“We don’t have much size, but that is no excuse; Elsie was better than us tonight,” Housman said. “We have been struggling to score in our past few games.”

The Lobos took a 30-9 lead with 4:17 to play in the second quarter and cruised to the win, as Sonoma never mounted a rally to cut into the large deficit.

“Our length gave Sonoma difficulty in getting their shots off and we were keeping them out of the paint,” Lott said. “Our bench gave us great minutes tonight.”

Elsie Allen goes into the SCL final on a high, having won 12 consecutive games.

“We have a lot of confidence right now,” Busby said.