Lady Dragons drop OT heartbreaker, Petaluma prevails for outright SCL title
Senior Ali Romano (front), seen in Sonoma’s earlier game against the Trojan girls in Pfeiffer Gym, scored a game-high 24 points, including six treys, for the Lady Dragons during last night’s heartbreaking SCL overtime road loss to Petaluma, which claimed the outright league title.
Without their injured floor-leading point-guard Kendall Ashe, one of only three seniors on the roster, the young Sonoma Valley High School varsity basketball girls were going to need players to step up and deliver in last night’s season finale at Petaluma to have any chance of claiming a share of the Sonoma County League crown.
Facing highly favored first-place Petaluma, which entered the showdown unbeaten in SCL play, the Lady Dragons looked lost without Ashe at the point when they committed five straight turnovers on their first five possessions of the game and found themselves in a quick five-point hole.
But Sonoma righted its wayward ship by playing solid defense against the bigger Trojan girls and navigating the rough waters behind seniors Ali Romano and Ashley Vail, junior Giana Monterosso, and standout sophomore Mackenzie Albrecht, who returned to action after missing four games with an injury.
With both teams immersed in an epic, physically played and foul-filled battle, Petaluma held a slight three-point edge at 18-15 and 30-27 after the first quarter and at the half, respectively, before the Lady Dragons forged a 36-36 tie to end the third period.
Then, when it looked like Sonoma would fall just short, Romano made two pressure free throws with 24 seconds left and, after missing a chance to win the contest in regulation play, the game slipped into overtime.
After the Trojans opened up a four-point advantage near the end of the four-minute overtime, Romano buried her sixth trey to make it a one-point game, but Petaluma again countered to hold a three-point edge.
In the final 40 seconds of the game, the Lady Dragons had a string of scoring opportunities to pull in front, but the ball didn’t bounce their way and they ended up dropping a 60-58 heartbreaker.
“That was a great high school basketball game – very physical and well-officiated – between two teams fighting for a title and we had our chances in both regulation play and overtime to win, but, unfortunately, we came up short,” said Sonoma head coach Sil Coccia, who’s assisted by Steve Semenero and Dino Minatta. “Of course we missed our captain and team leader Kendall (Ashe), as was evident at the start, but I thought Giana (Monterosso) stepped up and played very well considering the pressure at the point-guard position. You can’t fault our girls for the way they played their guts out and we’re looking forward to competing in the postseason.”
While Sonoma ended the SCL season with a solid 10-2 second-place record, both of their league losses were to Petaluma, which won the outright title with a 12-0 mark.
For the Lady Dragons, Romano scored a game-high 24 points, including the six treys, while Albrecht posted an impressive double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds, and Vail had 10 rebounds and two impressive blocked shots.