Empire roundup: Casa Grande boys breeze past Petaluma in basketball

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As far as local high school rivalries go, Casa Grande-Petaluma is one of the more colorful ones. Friday night was no different, as the host Trojans put on a show in their packed gym with an array of music and lights as the boys basketball team was introduced prior to tipoff.

Then the game started, and it was all Gauchos.

Casa Grande broke out to an 18-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, handily defeating Petaluma 56-34 in a Vine Valley Athletic League game.

“Our biggest focus was not being rattled by the environment. I don’t remember the last time we played in a gym like that. I wish every game was like that,” Casa Grande coach Jake Lee said of the energy and intensity in the Petaluma gym. “We played music at our practices all week at full tilt to get used to the noise. We were prepared for the environment, for sure.”

Casa Grande (9-8 overall, 2-2 VVAL) hit three 3-point shots in the first quarter (eight for the game) while Petaluma came out shooting ice cold. The Trojans (5-12, 2-2) didn’t hit a bucket from the field in the quarter and their only two points came on free throws.

“In the first quarter, for us it was all shot selection. We took the right shots. Petaluma was getting open shots but they weren’t going down,” Lee said. “We did a great job limiting their offensive rebounds.”

Casa Grande won the second quarter 16-11 for a 34-13 halftime lead, then cruised in the second half.

The Gauchos also had a below-average number of turnovers (10) for the game, which contributed to their success.

“This win is huge,” Lee said. “I told the players before the game that this was an opportunity to redefine our season by playing well tonight. Hopefully this is the little boost we needed.”

Casa Grande was led by Garrett Siebels (21 points) and Noah Bailey (17 points).

Petaluma had no player with more than 6 points.

Boys soccer

Rancho Cotate 2, Santa Rosa 2

After a wide-open first half that included four goals, the second half was controlled by the defenses and the Panthers and Cougars finished in a tie in a North Bay League-Oak Division matchup.

Visiting Rancho Cotate (3-4-2 overall, 0-1-1 NBl-Oak) got off to a quick start when Alex Sandoval rocketed a 20-yard shot low and hard into the right side of the net in the 15th minute for a 1-0 lead.

Nine minutes later, Anthony Fontanelli hit a chip shot from 20 yards out over the head of the onrushing Santa Rosa goalie for a 2-0 Cougars lead.

Rancho Cotate then lost an outside defensive back to a collision injury midway through the first half and had to reshuffle its lineup. Santa Rosa (4-4-2, 1-0-1) took advantage and scored two quick goals toward the end of the first half.

“We had people that were playing out of position,” Rancho Cotate coach Nick Rogers said. “It was a tough adjustment period after the injury.”

In the 34th minute, the Panthers narrowed their deficit to 2-1 after Kaito Maehara scored on a strike from the top of the box. Maehara took advantage of a major defensive blunder by the Cougars that turned the ball over deep in Rancho Cotate territory.

“We misplayed Santa Rosa’s first goal. We just gave them a gift,” Rogers said.

In the 36th minute, Santa Rosa tied the game on an 18-yard blast by Delfino Floriano.

“We didn’t start the game on the right foot and Rancho came out quick. We were able to bounce back. We had more dangerous opportunities in the second half and Rancho had more of the ball control,” Santa Rosa coach Antonio Garcia said.

“The second half could have gone either way. I wish we would not have given up those two early goals,” he said. “It was a good game; it always is when Santa Rosa and Rancho play.”

For the Cougars, it was an opportunity for a league win that they didn’t cash in.

“This was a game that absolutely slipped away from us. We were up 2-0 and we should have put it away, but we didn’t,” Rogers said. “I’m proud of how we played. Our style of play was on full display tonight.”

Healdsburg 3, Elsie Allen 2

In an NBL-Oak contest, the Greyhounds (3-3-2, 1-1-0) built a 3-0 lead in the first half and held on for the 3-2 victory as the host Lobos (1-3-1, 1-1) made a late run that fell just short.

Elsie Allen was without starting goalie Jesus Bijil, who was unavailable due to an emergency. The Lobos had no backup goalie to turn to, so two position players were pressed into service between the posts.

Healdsburg took advantage in the first half with three goals: James Valencia in the 10th minute on a left-footed volley from 25 yards, a 20-yard header by Daniel Lopez in the 20th minute and a free kick conversion from 25 yards late in the first half by Valencia.

“We were better than Elsie Allen in the first half,” Healdsburg coach Herbert Lemus said. “We took advantage of our high-quality shots.”

Elsie Allen, however, switched its substitute goalie and extended its defensive pressure in the second half to quell the Healdsburg attack.

“That was bad luck that we didn’t have our goalie,” Elsie Allen coach Carlos Mosqueda said. “In the second half, we started working better together. We had high-intensity pressure against Healdsburg in the second half.”

The Lobos scored in the 70th minute when Ivan Mojica split two Healdsburg defenders on a run from midfield that ended with him canning a shot into the net.

In the 75th minute, Elsie Allen scored again as Michael Garcia drove an 18-yarder past Healdsburg’s goalie.

“In the second half, Elsie Allen’s defensive pressure affected our offense,” Lemus said. “They really took over in the last 18 minutes and it paid off for them.”

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