At the beginning of the season a friend of mine did some high school predictions.  In the North Bay League Boys race he had Cardinal Newman in fifth place.  

My first thought was Cardinal Newman is going to miss the NBL Post Season Tournament?

Yeah right, and we will have a record drought followed by one weekend of rain that will try to make up for it.

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Montgomery won the first meeting with Newman 55-35 at The Viking Dome .

Still a rebuilding year for Cardinal Newman is a, “I will take that kind of year anytime”, for a lot of programs.  The Cardinals did go from an experienced team to a young team overnight.   Last year they had nine seniors.   This season they have four, which is almost offset by three sophomores.

The youth of the team has brought a mixed bag.  They started 2-4, losing three of the four games by three points or less.

Sometimes they would show they are a good team, but in the same sentence you could point out its youth and in rebuilding mode.

Earlier this season they defeated Santa Rosa by 35.  Three weeks later they lost to them.

Earlier this season they lost to Maria Carrillo by 34.  Three weeks later they beat them.

Sometimes the up and down happened in the same game.   In the game against Acalanes they trailed 19-2 in the first quarter.  They got all of that back before losing 52-51.

What kind of season that Cardinal Newman has had has been reflected in the weekly ratings.   They were ranked No. 7 in the first one in early January.  Since then they have been No. 4, No. 9, back to No. 7 and are now No. 6.

After all of that, going into the final week of the regular season, they are also where we are used to seeing them.    Monday night they host No. 1 Montgomery with the top of the North Bay League at stake. 

That Montgomery is where they are is no surprise.   They were the opposite of Cardinal Newman in some ways.   The Vikings had almost everyone coming back from a team that went 23-8 last year.   They were supposed to be a bigger team height wise, but because of injury and other issues that hasn’t happened.

The Vikings have still been pretty good.  In fact for the most part they have been better than good and a no brainer No. 1 all season long.  Outside the loss to Casa Grande, they have dominated the North Bay League like few have.  

A Montgomery-Cardinal Newman basketball game is the best that local sports have to offer.  It got so big that last year, the games were moved to SRJC to fit the crowds. Cardinal Newman was the big favorite in those games. The two league games along with the NBL post season championship game were entertaining.   In one game Cardinal Newman rallied from 18 down to win.

Montgomery is the favorite this year and played like the favorite winning the first game easily.  

If Montgomery wins they are NBL Champions for the third time in five seasons.  

If Cardinal Newman wins the race is on for the last week. 

If Cardinal Newman wins it will bring No. 4 Maria Carrillo back into the conversation.  The Pumas are at Windsor and if they could be one game back with a trip to Montgomery coming up on Wednesday.

No matter how this last week of league plays out Montgomery, Cardinal Newman and Maria Carrillo will be in the NBL post season tournament. 

The final spot is between No. 7 Ukiah and Casa Grande.   Ukiah has a one game lead in the loss column going into the final week.  The Wildcats have four games left.  They are home games with Santa Rosa and Rancho Cotate before going on the road to meet Windsor and Cardinal Newman.  They not only have the one game lead, but also have the tie-breaker advantage over Casa Grande, who ends the season with road games at Rancho Cotate and Santa Rosa and a home game with Montgomery.

Most of the NBL league season ends on Friday. The Ukiah-Cardinal Newman game is the only league game scheduled next Monday and is the last one of the season. The Boys post season tournament first round is on Wednesday February 19th and the home of the first and second place teams.  The championship game is Saturday February 22nd at SRJC.

It should be reminded if you are going to the Cardinal Newman-Montgomery game on Monday Night get to it early.  This series has been known for turn away crowds.