The Petaluma High Trojans didn’t exactly roar out of the gate in the Sonoma County League girls’ basketball race. But they are making plenty of noise now.
The Trojans, who finished 5-7 in league last season and missed SCL playoffs by way of getting the bummer end of a break-the-tie straw draw, were just 8-5 heading into their league opener against Healdsburg back on Jan. 3.
They won that game 40-36 in overtime, perhaps exacting a bit of revenge against the ’Hounds who last year knocked them into the tie that eventually kept them from playing in the league postseason tournament.
Coach Jon Ratshin, in his second year at the helm for Petaluma, said his team escaped an early league hole that night — and they knew it.
“We escaped,” he said. “We got out of there with a win and felt fortunate to do so.”
The team regained some confidence with big wins against Elsie Allen and El Molino before hosting rival Analy on Jan. 12. And that game didn’t start out well. The Trojans were down 30-19 at the half.
“We went into the locker room and basically told them that we were turning the ball over. We were basically throwing the ball to them and they are making layups,” Ratshin said. “It’s hard to win that way.”
But the Trojans buckled down, protected the ball and ground their way back to a 60-52 win at home. They also gained heaps of confidence that night. Up until that point, it was perhaps unclear what the Trojans were made of.
“I really think that after we beat Analy the first time, then for sure we knew,” said senior Kelsey Martin.
They have since beaten defending champ Sonoma Valley on the road, squeaked out a 43-42 nail biter against Piner and made it 2-0 against Analy this season to run up a 10-0 league record heading into tonight’s home contest against Sonoma Valley. Even with Sonoma Valley and Piner still on the schedule, the Trojans’ win against Analy on Saturday night clinched the Sonoma County League title for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
It marks the last time an SCL banner in girls basketball will be bestowed on any team. Next season, Petaluma will join Sonoma Valley, Casa Grande, American Canyon, Justin-Siena, Napa and Vintage in a new league.
“I think it really tops us off and sends us into the new division with more confidence,” Martin said.
The Trojans are led by junior Jade Krist’s 9.1 points per game, followed by sophomore Sheriene Arikat’s 9.0 off the bench. Krist is an all-around force for the Trojans, leading the team in rebounds per game (6.9), steals (2.2) and is second in assists per game behind senior Nichole Costa’s 2.3.
“Nichole Costa has been there for us defensively,” Ratshin said. “She scored more last year but has been better as far as getting teammates involved.”
Costa said the team is perhaps a better unit this year than last. And they are balanced offensively.
“We definitely have a big post presence,” Costa said. “When I see Jade open in the middle I try to get her the ball. In the second half they kind of try to take that away and I can hit Kaileigh Pate on the outside.”