NCS boys basketball tournament: Vikings take control in 59-49 win

Montgomery's Eric Poulsen goes up to the basket as Northgate's Jeremy Moniz defends during the game held at Montgomery High School, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.  (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Montgomery’s Eric Poulsen goes up to the basket as Northgate’s Jeremy Moniz defends during the game held at Montgomery High School, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

By PETER FOURNIER

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Montgomery High boys basketball coach Tom Fitchie was pleased with his team’s effort Friday night after what he believed wasn’t a total effort vs. Arroyo in the first round earlier this week.

The Vikings advanced to the North Coast Section Division 2 semifinals with a 59-49 victory over visiting Northgate on Friday. Montgomery (20-10) will host Dublin Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“Last game our effort wasn’t there,” Fitchie said. “Our effort was there tonight. We played hard because that’s a good team. Those guards are probably as good as any guards that we have played in quite a while. They’re tough guys and they’re physical.”

The Vikings never let Northgate reclaim another lead after falling behind 6-2 early in the first quarter. Montgomery eventually pulled away to a six-point lead after one quarter and by five at the half.

Montgomery seemed well in control when it pushed its advantage to 10 points after three quarters, but Northgate’s guards didn’t let the game get out of reach, thanks in large part to John Dong’s 22-point night, 9 of which came on three 3-pointers in the final quarter and helped trim the Vikings’ lead to four points. Jeremy Moniz also sank two 3s for Northgate in the contest and finished with 11 points.

That’s as close as it would get, however, as Montgomery pulled away for good in the final four minutes.
Eric Poulsen led Montgomery with 22 points and dominated the low post on both sides of the court at times. Jack Fitchie scored 12 and hit all six of his free throws in the final stanza.

(See more photos from the game)

“When (Poulsen)’s shooting, you know you got a pretty good chance of scoring because he’s closer and a very good shooter for his size,” coach Fitchie said.

Poulsen said he knew it was time to take charge.

“I wanted to step up because I felt that right now for us it’s win or go home, so I had to step up,” he said. “I had some shots tonight, and I just knocked down the shots that I practiced all the time.”

Poulsen said he feels he’s progressed well in his first season playing for Montgomery.

“I’ve settled in nicely now. I’m ready for a nice playoff run. I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” he said.

Fitchie knows the win proves his team understood the message he was trying to deliver earlier this week.

“I think they finally realized the season could be over if they don’t play hard,” he said. “They got it in their heads somewhere that they better get out there and play harder.”

Dublin defeated Concord 66-47 on Friday night. Fitchie said he doesn’t know much about his next opponent, other than they’re a high-scoring, up-tempo team.

“As long as we keep playing hard, we can keep try to adjust to what other teams do,” Fitchie said.

Poulsen said Dublin’s not “super big” inside, but that its guards are good.

“We’re really going to be challenged outside, again,” he said.