Cardinal Newman Advances To Nor Cal Championship Game
Cardinal Newman hasn’t been test too many times this season.  But when they have been they have acted like the experienced team they are.
In the Northern California semi-final game Tuesday Night, they got its biggest test down the stretch of the season.   The reason it was the biggest test, besides the that the season was on the line, was because it came after the game seemed to have been won.
Cardinal Newman had a 17 point lead with six minutes left.   The was almost instantly cut to five and would get as close as three. Then Cardinal Newman held on to defeat Soquel  57-51, to advance to the CIF Nor Cal Championship on Saturday.
This was quite an adventure getting a school record tying 31st win of the season.   It started out badly, turned into domination, before holding on at the end.
Soquel likes the three pointer.   As with a team that shoots them, a game can change personalities and change quickly.   The good and the bad happened in this game.
The first change came in the second quarter.   Soquel had shown how streaky they can be by scoring  eight straight in the last minute of the first quarter to take an 18-10 lead.
Cardinal Newman then took control, starting with a 12-4 run in the first five minutes of the second quarter to tie the game.   Soquel missed all six of its three point attempts in the quarter and was only three of fifteen going into the fourth quarter.
By the beginning of that fourth quarter it looked like Cardinal Newman was in control.  They used a 37-16 rebounding advantage to carry a ten point lead into the fourth quarter.   Despite the rebounding difference and the three point shooting, Soquel stayed on the fringe of being in the game thanks to a harassing defense that caused twenty two turnovers, which is over three times what Cardinal Newman averaged on the season.
Cardinal Newman then scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter in under two minutes to take a 48-31 lead and it was over right?
Not quite.
As cold as Soquel had been taking three pointers, they got that hot.   Sam Walker, the co-player of the year in the Santa Cruz Coast League in which they were champions, hit back to back three pointers.    That started a 14-2 run that took about two minutes that cut the lead to 50-45 with three minutes left.
Walters ended up with 13 points.   Cody Valcarcel led Soquel with 15 points.  He also had half of the Soquel sixteen rebounds.
Valcarcel’s 15 points shared game high with Corey Hammell, who also had fifteen rebounds.   Kenny Love scored 14.
Cardinal Newman then hit four free throws to get the lead back to nine.  The free throws were part of a season trend it which Cardinal Newman dominated.  They were 18 of 25 on the night, while Soquel only had seven attempts and hit two.
Soquel responded with back to back threes and it was a three point lead with 1:15 left.  Soquel actually had the ball with a chance to tie with another three.   They missed a layup and after getting the offensive rebound, turned the ball over.
Soquel was forced to foul and Cardinal Newman delivered four free throws in the last minute to secure the win.
Soquel ends its best season ever at 24-8.
Cardinal Newman meanwhile continues a season that has a chance to turn into its best ever.   The win gives them a 31-3 mark.   The 31 wins equal a school record set in 1989.  They can break that record when they go for its fourth Nor Cal Championship on Saturday.    They first won it in 1989 and also took it in 1996 and 2007.
They go for number four on Saturday when they travel to American Canyon High School at 4 pm to meet Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco.  They rallied from an eight point third quarter deficit and hit a buzzer beater to defeat Marin Catholic 49-48 in its semi-final.  Archbishop Riordan is 20-11 on the season and the No.2 seed.
No. 1 Cardinal Newman (31-3) vs. No. 2 Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco (20-11)
4 pm at American Canyon High School
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