OT heartbreak for Lady Dragons
Girls host Analy in SCL Tourney Thursday; JV girls win, finish first
Sophomore Mackenzie Albrecht (right) – battling Petaluma’s Joelle Krist during Sonoma’s earlier game against the Trojan girls in Pfeiffer Gym – returned after missing four games with an injury to post a strong double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds during the Lady Dragons’ heartbreaking SCL title loss at Petaluma last Thursday night.
Without injured floor-leading point-guard Kendall Ashe, one of only three seniors on the roster, the young Sonoma Valley High School varsity basketball girls needed players to step up and deliver in last Thursday’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 after the first quarter and 30-27 at the half, 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 it was very tough to lose the game, our younger players did get some valuable experience of playing in pressure situations, and I thought they handled it well. With our 15-11 overall record at this point, and with our junior varsity team winning 18 games and finishing in first place, and our freshman team winning 17 games, our Sonoma girls’ basketball program has a very bright future.”
Pacing the Lady Dragons were Romano’s game-high 24 points, including six treys, and two assists; Albrecht’s impressive double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds to go with four steals; Vail’s six points, 10 rebounds and two, big blocked shots; Monterosso’s six points, four assists and three rebounds; sophomore Alexa Hall’s three points; and sophomore Delaney Swanson’s two points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Rounding out the Sonoma varsity girls’ roster are juniors Madi Burningham, Amanda Lacy and Megan Neely.
Sonoma ends its SCL season with a solid 10-2 second-place record, with both of its league losses being to Petaluma, which won the title outright with a 12-0 mark.
The Lady Dragons begin the postseason as the second-seed for the annual SCL Tournament and will host third-seed Analy in an opening-round game at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, in Pfeiffer Gym, while top-seed Petaluma hosts fourth-seed Healdsburg.
Both winners will meet for the SCL Tourney title at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday night, Feb. 16, at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Sonoma’s junior varsity hoops girls ended their inspiring season on the road with a 43-31 victory over Petaluma, which earned them an SCL first-place 11-1 record and 18-5 overall mark.
The SCL jayvee champion Lady Dragons – directed by head coach Jan Thorpe and assistant coach Ashley Morovich – consisted of sophomores Sierra Lilly, Bella Bollman, Ciara Smith, Laryssa Baker, Shelby Camilleri, Angela Fulkerson, Hanna Lemaire and Rian Verdu; and frosh Sami Von Gober.
Leading the Sonoma jayvees in their season-ending victory over Petaluma were Smith’s standout triple-double of 12 points, 10 rebounds and an eye-opening 13 blocked shots; Lemaire’s 12 points, Baker’s and Bollman’s six each, and Lilly’s and Verdu’s two apiece; and Camilleri’s three points and six rebounds.