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Cardinal Newman has won the North Bay League girls basketball title two years running with nary a loss. This season, the Cardinals beat teams by an average of 44 points. And still, the stands remain relatively empty.

The suggestion that the games are blowouts and therefore not entertaining perplexes coach Monica Mertle.

“I’ve heard that, ‘Oh you are just going to win,’ like it’s no big deal,” she said. “Or you could say, ‘Like wow, I appreciate that, I appreciate what the girls have done. I want to see good basketball.’ I think a lot of it depends on how you look at it.”

Santa Rosa boys miss out

Santa Rosa’s boys basketball team didn’t receive an invitation to participate in the Division 1 North Coast Section tournament, but the Panthers reached several milestones during the season. For the first time in at least a decade, the Panthers had a winning NBL record (8-6), finished .500 (13-13) and beat Montgomery (57-50 in overtime on Jan. 25).

The team was together watching the selection show last Sunday.

“We were at Ursuline working with a group of Special Olympics kids and watched the show on my cell phone,” coach John McGill said. “We submitted the paperwork to be invited, but I wasn’t surprised we didn’t get in.

“I spent time analyzing the teams in Division 1 and thought the best we could hope for was No. 16, the last team invited,” said coach John McGill. “I thought it was between College Park and us. When College Park won the Diablo Valley League Tournament last Friday, I knew that was the writing on the wall for us.

“I feel bad for the seniors, but we accomplished a lot this year and there’s plenty of reasons for the kids to be proud.””

SR girls snubbed as well

Also being snubbed by the NCS selection committee was the Santa Rosa girls team. This despite finishing second in league with a 10-4 record and an overall mark of 17-11.

“We were really shocked and disappointed,” Panthers coach Luis Patrick said. “We thought we might get a No. 9 seed. It’s just crazy.”

Patrick met with the team on Monday to talk things out. “They were heartbroken,” he said. “We figured we had at least one more game together.

“I let them know I was proud of them. We had a really great season and got better as the year progressed. No question we played our best basketball at the end of the season.”

Last Friday the Panthers were beaten by Cardinal Newman in the championship game of the NBL Tournament.

Local flavor on JC diamond

Empire high school grads have sparked Santa Rosa JC’s baseball team to a sizzling 10-1 start this season.

Maria Carrillo alum Jake Scheiner, a sophomore, is batting .381 with a .619 slugging percentage. Scheiner leads the Bear Cubs with 18 runs scored. He’s slammed seven doubles and collected 13 RBIs.

Former Montgomery outfielder Mitch West, another sophomore, is hitting .342 with a home run and 13 RBIs. Sophomore George Foster, out of Cardinal Newman, has 16 RBIs and is batting .340.

SRJC returns to action Thursday at 2 p.m. hosting Canada College.

Cantrell receives honor

Cody Cantrell, a Rincon Valley Christian graduate and a former small school All-Empire soccer player, received the Cliff Hamlow Championship of Character Award at William Jessup University in Rocklin. The award salutes athletes who demonstrates outstanding athletic achievement, campus and community leadership, future ambition and a devotions to the core character values of the NAIA Champions of Character program.

Cantrell, a two-year captain, will be honored at the Golden State Athletic Conference banquet March 6 in Costa Mesa.

Robles trades skis for scrum

Thomas Robles, a Cardinal Newman and SRJC grad, is one of the new members of the Cal rugby team. Robles was an internationally ranked junior ski racer who won Junior Olympics gold medals in slalom and Super G. He honed his rugby skills as a member of the Santa Rosa Rugby Club.

In Cal’s 65-12 win against Air Force on Saturday, Robles scored in the 53rd minute.

Santa Rosa opening

Santa Rosa High School is looking for a head coach for its junior varsity softball team. Interested candidates should contact athletic director Bryan Price for more information.

Kerry Benefield, Howard Senzell and Ted Sillanpaa contributed to this report.

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