Benefield: Persistence pays off for Cardinal Newman boys basketball in overtime win vs. Healdsburg
Healdsburg had this one in the bag. But someone forgot to tell Cardinal Newman.
The Healdsburg ’Hounds led every second of the marquee nonleague boys basketball matchup Saturday night, from the opening tip until two seconds left in regulation — when Cardinal Newman’s Trevor Smith took an inbound pass under his own basket, and dropped in a bucket off the glass to tie the game at 44 and send it into overtime.
And when it hit overtime, the ’Hounds had nothing left to give. Cardinal Newman won 57-51 to move to 14-2 overall. The loss drops the ’Hounds to 14-3.
Though it was a nonleague matchup — Cardinal Newman plays in the North Bay League-Oak Division and Healdsburg is in the NBL-Redwood — this was a key game. These are the two teams that have risen to the top among area squads. These two teams are in different North Coast Section divisions and different leagues, but there were bragging rights to be won Saturday night.
And that infused enough drama and tension that Cardinal Newman’s gym was rocking when the game went into overtime. And it made the win — and how they pulled it off — important to the Cardinals’ season-long goals.
“Healdsburg is a great team. They had control of the game all the way through,” Cardinal Newman head coach Tom Bonfigli said. “I talk to my guys a lot about playing to the very end, regardless of the score.
“I have a lot of respect for my guys, what they have inside,” he said.
What the Cardinals had inside late in the game was one Giancarlo Woods. The senior had zero points in the first half coming off the bench, but almost singlehandedly brought the Cardinals back within striking distance in the fourth with his eight points. He chipped in four more points in overtime. He finished with 14 points, tied with Smith for most points on the night for Newman.
Woods’ contested layup in traffic with less than a minute to play in regulation brought the Cardinals to within two, 39-41.
“He’s a great athlete. He’s a gamer,” Bonfigli said of Woods. “He’s a great player, he plays hard.”
The ’Hounds still seemed in command, even with the score 44-42 in their favor with just 6 seconds on the clock. But ’Hounds coach Yasha Mokaram, knowing the Cardinals would immediately foul whoever caught the ball, changed up his inbounds play to make his best player, Dylan Hayman, the target instead of the passer.
Chase Sommer’s inbound pass skidded off the legs of Phil Helfrick and over the end line. Cardinals’ ball.
Newman’s senior big man, Smith, then converted the in-traffic bucket off of the inbound pass and the game went into overtime.
“I had someone inbounding at the end of the game that normally doesn’t inbound and that was my fault. I was trying to get to the ball to Dylan Hayman, he’s usually our inbounder. I think I just overthought it,” Mokaram said. “It’s just not a smart coaching decision on my part.”
“In a game like that, when it comes down to one play, you don’t put somebody in a spot they haven’t been in. It’s just bad coaching move,” he said.