Sonoma Valley boys rally past Casa Grande in hoops

The Casa Grande boys basketball team’s hot first quarter couldn’t translate across the rest of Thursday night’s road contest, thanks in part to a key defensive adjustment from host Sonoma Valley.

After the Gauchos jumped out to a 15-6 lead, the Dragons switched from a man-to-man defense to zone, and the translation resulted in Casa Grande scoring single-digit points in each quarter for the rest of the contest.

Sonoma Valley’s 57-39 Vine Valley Athletic League win over the Gauchos was its first home win with Sonoma County’s new COVID-19 restrictions for high school sporting events. A mere four parents made up the cheering section for the Dragons (10-7, 4-1 VVAL), who earned a sweep of the Gauchos (10-6, 4-2) in league play.

They needed the encouragement after that slow start. And it was during the fifth possession that coach Mike Boles noticed his team needed to make a switch.

“We called that on the fly,” he said. “Our kids are able to adjust in the midst of the game. I have a lot of confidence in them to be able to do that. They executed well.”

After the zone defense was installed, everything else seemed to fall into place, especially for Sonoma Valley center Dom Girish.

The captain and Dragons’ leading scorer hit the first basket of the second quarter, and added another along with a “and-1” to put Sonoma Valley ahead – for good – at 16-15 with 5:40 left in the second. He finished with 20 points, 13 coming in the second.

“They had four quick buckets, right off the start,” Girish said. “… we kind of just switched to that zone to throw them off a little bit, and it worked. We stuck with it the rest of the game.”

Those four quick buckets belong to Brandon Allred, who scored all eight of his points in the first. The Gauchos’ rhythm that allowed them to pull away to a nine-point lead evaporated into a eight-point deficit at the half, as Casa only mustered four points in the second quarter and eight in the third. Colin Patchet led the way for the Gauchos with 14 points. Logan Bailey had 13 points for the Gauchos, including 3 threes.

“We moved the ball and we were playing hard,” Casa coach Chris Gutendorf said of the first quarter. “And they went to a zone, and the ball stopped moving. And we became stagnant on the zone. You have to be able to move the ball back and forth, inside and out. Our passes weren’t good and the ball wasn’t moving.

“You don’t move the ball in the zone, they get to stand there and hangout and not play defense. And that’s what we did.”

Boles said he’s focused on the game while coaching, but acknowledged his players might have noticed the minimum attendance.

“Having no fans is kind of a blow that we took,” Girish said. “We strive off the energy. We have really good Dragon pride this year. Seniors always show out good to these games.”

Sonoma Valley plays at Concord High on Saturday at 4 p.m. Casa Grande hosts American Canyon on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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