When thinking championship droughts, Cardinal Newman doesn’t exactly come to mind.  When there is a championship being decided, Cardinal Newman is usually in the mix, and in several sports.

welcome
The 2013 Norcal Champions

The Cardinal Newman basketball team year in and year out is one of the best teams in the area.  With all the wins over the years, there is one win they haven’t gotten in a long time.
Cardinal Newman hasn’t won a North Coast Section championship since 1993.  Since then they have won twelve North Bay League championships, and made the State Championship game twice.
That means the players of Marin Catholic and Cardinal Newman, who are playing for the 2015 North Coast Section Division 4 Championship, weren’t born the last time Cardinal Newman won this game.
For an example of how long that is, De La Salle, the basketball team, not the football, has nine section championships. Arch rival Montgomery has four, as has the opponent in this championship game Marin Catholic.
Heck it has been so long, that the Giants have won three World Series Championships, and yes the 49ers have won a Super Bowl, which probably states how long it has been, more than any other example.
Cardinal Newman can break that drought with what is close to a home game, taking on Marin Catholic at SRJC. Not only will a win give them that elusive NCS title, it will give them a 30 win season for the second time in three seasons.
In 2013 Cardinal Newman went 32-4, and did make this game. Even though they were the No. 2, seed they weren’t given much of a chance against No. 1 seed Salesian and dropped a 65-34 decision. T hat was the first year of the Open Division, so Cardinal Newman didn’t have to worry about Salesian in the Nor Cal bracket.  They were a No. 1 seed and parlayed that all the way to the state championship game, where they dropped a 58-52 decision to Pacific Hills.
There is a big difference between this NCS Championship game and that one. The biggest difference is the Cardinal Newman is given a chance and is the favorite.
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Cardinal Newman’s leading scorer Connor Rubattino shoots over a Montgomery defender.

Maybe the biggest reason to be hopeful is Cardinal Newman is playing championship type ball.  They have had no problems in the first three games of the playoffs.  The closest game was the last one, a 73-56 win over St. Mary of Berkeley.  Connor Rubattino scored a game high 26 points and is Cardinal Newman’s leading scorer on the season, averaging nearly 20 points a game.
Marin Catholic is a familiar opponent.  They met in December in a game that Cardinal Newman took a 60-51 win.  The game was closer than the score might indicate. Cardinal Newman outscored Marin Catholic 23-11 in the fourth quarter to take the win.  Rubattino was also the leading scorer in that game with 24 points.
That game was part of a Marin Catholic start that didn’t have them looking like a playoff team.  On January 2nd, they dropped the Marin County League opener to Drake 73-56.  It was their fourth straight loss and their record was a not too impressive 5-7.
What they did next was impressive, winning ten of eleven and ended in a first place tie in the Marin County League race with Drake and San Marin.  The only loss in the streak was a 73-69 overtime loss to St. Mary’s of Berkeley, the team Cardinal Newman beat in the NCS semi-finals on Wednesday.  That and an 18-10 regular season, earned them a No. 6 seed in the playoffs.
That means to get to this game they had to go on the road twice.  The first time was to Salesian, who had a streak of four of six section championships.  Marin Catholic was 12 down with four and a half minutes left and rallied to take a 57-55 win.  Sophomore Joey Calcaterra, who scored a game high 28 points, hit two free throws with :04 left for the game winning points.  Calcaterra is the team’s leading scorer averaging 20.1 a game.
It was win number twenty for Marin Catholic, the fourth time in five seasons to reach that point.
Road game number two, on Wednesday, was a 77-65 win over No. 3 seed St. Patrick-St. Vincent.  Calcaterra was one of three players that scored at least 20 points.  The other two were Brother’s Frank and Charlie Duysen.  Both are seniors, and both are averaging double figures in scoring per game on the season.
This is the third time in five years Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic have met in the NCS playoffs.  Two years ago, on its way to that State Championship game, Cardinal Newman took a 57-48 in the semi-final game.  Before that, in 2011, in the second round, Marin Catholic won a 75-72 game in overtime.  Both of those games were at Cardinal Newman.
Marin Catholic is looking for its fifth NCS championship in school history.  The last one was in 2005.
When Cardinal Newman won its last NCS championship in 1993, it was their second in a row.  They also won in 1975, the first year there were NCS playoffs.
LOCAL NCS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
FRIDAY
DIVISION 4 BOYS
7 PM AT SRJC
No. 1 Cardinal Newman (29-2) vs. No. 6 Marin Catholic (21-10)
SATURDAY
DIVISION 2 BOYS
8 PM AT ST. MARY’S COLLEGE
No. 1 El Cerrito (28-3) vs. No. 2 Montgomery (21-10)
DIVISION 6 BOYS
8 PM
No. 3 Archbishop Hanna (24-4) at No. 1 St. Bernard Catholic (19-10)
My email address is jacpasquini@comcast.net
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