Having to face the same team a third time in a season is often a tough task, but playing that same opponent a fourth time increases the pressure, and when injuries are involved, the challenge intensifies, which was the situation facing the Sonoma Valley High School varsity basketball girls Tuesday night in Petaluma.
After splitting their Sonoma County League regular-season matchups, longtime rival Petaluma upended the Lady Dragons in the first round of the postseason SCL Tournament, which figured to be their last clash of the year.
But it turned out that wasn’t the case as Sonoma received the 11th seed in a 12-team field for the North Coast Section Division-3 playoffs and were pegged to play on the road against, of course, the sixth-seeded Trojan girls.
Having already played the second half of the SCL season and tourney without their injured best player, former all-league, All-Empire junior standout Mackenzie Albrecht, the Sonoma girls were without two other starters because of recent injuries, juniors Shelby Camilleri and first-team all-league center Ciara Smith.
In Tuesday night’s NCS Division-3 opener, the hobbling Lady Dragons played their usual tough defense, but offensively they were stagnant, constantly turning the ball over from the effects of full-court pressure by Petaluma, which also dominated the rebounding.
Despite mustering only three first-quarter points, Sonoma managed to keep the Trojans from running away with the game and trailed just 20-13 at the half.
After both teams picked up the offensive pace in the second half, Petaluma still held a lead at 39-29 the end of the third quarter, but in dramatic fourth period, the Lady Dragons put together a rally that pulled them to within four points of a tie.
But time ran out, in both the game and season, on the Sonoma girls as they dropped a 52-44 decision.
Pacing the Lady Dragons, who finished the season with a 14-14 record, were SCL first-team all-league junior Delaney Swanson’s 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists; junior Sierra Lilly’s nine points on three fourth-quarter treys; junior Alexa Hall’s seven points; junior Hanna Lemaire’s six points; sophomore Bella Bollman’s five points and three assists; sophomore Jenny Eggers’ four points and seven rebounds; senior Giana Monterosso’s three points, two steals and one block; sophomore Renee O’Donnell’s five rebounds and one block; and senior Megan Neely’s three rebounds.
Rounding out the Lady Dragons’ postseason roster – directed by head head coach Sil Coccia and assistant coaches Dino Minatta and Sheila Brady – are senior Maddie Burningham, junior Laryssa Baker, and sophomore Samantha Von Gober.