There was a near capacity crowd at Piner High School for the SCL first place showdown between Elsie Allen and Piner. The Elsie Allen part of the crowd was yelling, “MVP, MVP, MVP” down the stretch.
There can be little doubt.
In what might have been the biggest game in school history, Jalen Busby scored 42 points as Elsie Allen took control of the game in the first half and never lost it, in a 81-65 win over Piner to take over first place in the Sonoma County League race.  The 42 points is believed to be a school record.
Busby was not the only reason that Elsie Allen is sitting in first place today, but it is a good place to start.  He took control from the start scoring 12 of Piner’s first 14 points.  By halftime he had a 20, as Piner took a 36-27 halftime lead. He scored from every angle.  He would drive to the hoop.  Not only did he drive, you knew he was going to drive and he couldn’t be stopped.  He also hit two three pointers almost to show that he could do that too.  One of the three pointers he didn’t have much of a choice, the shot clock was running out so he fired up from thirty feet out.

EA Hoeup
Joe Hoeup has returned from an injury just in time for the SCL Title run. Photo by Michael Lux

That three point shot was part of ten straight Elsie Allen points, which gave the Lobos a 27-11 lead early in the second quarter.  The closest Piner would be right before halftime when Piner put on an 11-3 run to make it 34-27.  Elsie Allen’s three points during that run was Busby’s other three point shot.
The only thing that stopped Busby was minor foul trouble.  The third quarter turned into foul fest and Busby committed his third foul with five minutes left in the quarter.  Elsie Allen had started the quarter with a 13-2 run to take a 47-29 lead, so it was a no-brainer to sit Busby, which Elsie Allen did for the rest of the quarter.
There was a total of seventeen fouls called in the third quarter and the teams combined for twenty three free throws. Elsie Allen took advantage of that hitting its first nine.  They would end up 27 of 33 on the game, with Busby hitting 18 of 22.  That is the most free throws he has hit in a game, topping the 15 of 17 performance last week against Sonoma Valley. So if the defense is looking for a way to stop or contain him, fouling him isn’t a good strategy.
Going into the week, Busby getting into foul trouble might be a concern.   Where the offense would come from?  Busby is the only player who averages double figures a game, although Bradley Greiner is close at 9.9.  That is no longer the case as now Elsie Allen has quite a one-two punch.  In his second game of the season, Joe Hoeup scored a quiet 20 points, 11 of those in the third quarter.  Even with Busby on the bench, Elsie Allen still had a 56-39 lead when the third quarter ended.
EA Lott
Lobos head Coach Madison Lott checks the scoreboard as Elsie Allen takes over sole possession of first place.  Photo by Michael Lux

In such a high scoring game you might assume that there wasn’t much defense played.  You would be wrong about that. Raysean Barrios, who head coach Madison Lott calls his best defensive player, put the clamps on Piner’s leading scorer Keith Adams.  Adams did score 16 points, but fifteen were in the second half.  He didn’t score his first field goal until early in the third quarter.  That would be Piner’s only field goal of the quarter until Adams made a steal and score five minutes later.
Piner made one minor run in the fourth quarter. Adams hit a three point shot to end a six point run which cut the lead to 62-51, with 4:30 to go.  Elsie Allen called a time out to regroup, got the ball to Busby and he scored the next five point.s What little nervousness there was on the Elsie Allen side was over.  It was the second time in the game that it looked like Piner was getting serious about getting back into the game.  Each time Elsie Allen coach Madison Lott called a time out to settle things down and Elsie Allen went out and retook control of the game.
It was an impressive win in a big game by a program that isn’t used to playing big games.  Now comes the hard part.  It is different playing the role of hoping to contend for a league title.  Now they are playing the role of expecting to win one.
Elsie Allen has the league bye on Monday and won’t be in action again until Wednesday, when they host El Molino.  They will be going for their 18th win which would equal a school record.
Just as important ,they will be playing as the first place team in the SCL race.  It wasn’t too long ago that the chances of that seemed absurd.
No. 1 Cardinal Newman 65 Rancho Cotate 35
No. 2 Casa Grande 65 Maria Carrillo 31
No. 3 Montgomery 62 Ukiah 33
Windsor 52 Santa Rosa 45
No major changes or much of threat for the top four teams, who have all but wrapped up the spots in the NBL post season tournament.
There was a little nervousness at Casa Grande, when Maria Carrillo jumped out to a nine point first quarter lead.  Halfway through the second quarter, Casa Grande had a nine point lead and they were on their way.
The Windsor-Santa Rosa game was the closest.  Windsor had a 14 point lead after one and then held off the Panthers.  It was another big game for Brent Tucker who had 22 points and 14 rebounds.
So after a three game week that had a variety of emotions, the race isn’t that different than it was when the week started, with Casa Grande having a one game lead over Cardinal Newman, Montgomery and Windsor.
Windsor is the team to keep an eye on the next week and a half as the next three games they meet, in order, Cardinal Newman, Casa Grande and Montgomery.
No. 4 Elsie Allen 81 No. 5 Piner 55
No. 8 Analy 64 Petaluma 34
Sonoma Valley 52 El Molino 39
Healdsburg BYE
The win by Analy pulls them into a second place tie with Piner, one game behind Elsie Allen.  While Elsie Allen has the league bye on Monday.  Analy at Piner which is a must win for both teams to stay in the league race.
The win by Sonoma Valley pretty much wraps up the four teams that will be in the post season tournament.  Sonoma Valley hosts Petaluma on Monday and if they win they will move into a third place tie with the loser of the Analy-Piner game.
Clear Lake 47 No. 7 Willits 44
No. 9 Cloverdale 43 Kelseyville 33
Middletown 64 Fort Bragg 45
Lower Lake 59 St. Helena 54
A race changing night as Cloverdale takes over sole possession of first place.
Clear Lake won its second league game in its upset of Willits.
Willits will have a chance to get back into a tie on Tuesday when they host Cloverdale.
Cloverdale hosts Fortuna tonight in a game that is as important for NCS Division 4 seeding purposes as the game with Willits is for a league title.
No. 7 Middletown 50 Fort Bragg 27
Kelseyville 44 Cloverdale 33
Lower Lake 48 St. Helena 13
Willits 49 Clear Lake 20
Middletown keeps its one game lead over Kelseyville . Each team has one game before meeting on Friday at Middletown.
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