Time will tell, but this may have been that best chance for a league defeat of No. 1 Santa Rosa.    No. 6 Montgomery added to what has become one of the best, if not the best, Girls Basketball rivalries in the area by rallying from a 17 point deficit to force overtime before dropping a 54-51 decision.

Actually the upset bug was in the air before the game began and not just because of what happened to the Boys No. 1 on Monday Night and the rivalry between these two teams.  

Flu and injury took a toll on the Santa Rosa team.  The flu part started at the top with head coach Steve Chisholm, who didn’t make it to the game.   Assistant coach Don Codding took his place and would make a decision that may have saved the evening for the Panthers.

Going into the game it appeared not only would Santa Rosa be without its coach, but the twin towers also.   Like her coach, Devin Murray didn’t make it to the game because of the flu.   The other half of the twin towers, Morgan Bertsch was in uniform, but it was announced she would not play because of an injured thumb.   The injury came in the late moments in the win over Cardinal Newman.  She was forced to sit out Saturday’s 57-56 win over Heritage, but it was believed she would be back in the lineup for Thursday’s game at No. 3 Windsor.

So going against a good Montgomery team they would be without the two top scorers and rebounders.

For the longest time it didn’t seem to matter.   Santa Rosa put on a show in the second quarter that appeared to give them full control of the game.   The Panthers broke away from a 13-13 tie with one of its typical runs, scoring 16 straight and had a 32-15 lead with two minutes left in the first half. 

Junior, Kylie Oden seemed to be saying twin towers or not, get on my back and we will get through this.  Oden, who is the third member of the four on the team that averages double figures in scoring, scored 18 of not only game high 24 points in the first half, including 12 of the Panthers first 16 points.  A traditional three point play broke the 13-13 tie.    That wasn’t only a game high, but a season high for Oden.

Then of course Santa Rosa has senior guard Katie Daly, who is the fourth double figure scorer.  After Oden’s three point play that broke the 13-13 tie, Daly made a steal and drove the length of the court to lay it in as she was being fouled.  She missed the free throw, but got her own rebound put it back in for a four point play and Santa Rosa had started the run that looked like it would get them over the top.

That didn’t turn out to be the case.   After taking the 32-13 lead, Santa Rosa scored one field goal until the overtime.  

Still Montgomery wasn’t doing much better, at least in the third quarter.  Despite only hitting four free throws in the third quarter, Santa Rosa still carried a 36-24 lead into the fourth quarter.

The first warning signs that things weren’t over came in the first part of the fourth quarter.   Niambi Saint Louis, who is the Vikings leading scorer at 11.4 a game, scored the first six points of a 9-0 run to start the quarter and all of a sudden it was a 36-33 game with 5:30 left.   The run was part of a 14 point night for Saint Louis.

Santa Rosa looked like they avoided that trouble thanks in part to  Daly who then scored the Panthers only field goal of the half, made a steal and was fouled shooting.   After hitting them both Santa Rosa had a 40-33 bulge with 4:30 left.   The free throw line saved Santa Rosa in the second half.  As a team that shoots 60% on the season.  In this second half they hit 11 of 12.

The Vikings weren’t done yet, although it did appear they were with 1:30 left, when Odom hit two free throws which gave the Panthers a 45-39 lead.  But an unlikely player got them back.  Hayley Komrij, who averages just under 5 1/2 points a game, scored a traditional three point play with 1:10 left to cut Santa Rosa’s lead to 45-42.   That gave her a season high 12 points.

She wasn’t done yet.

After a change of possessions, Montgomery had the ball with :16 left.   Komrij, who had hit 3 three point shots all season, buried one as time was running out to force the overtime.

That is when Codding made what could be called “the decision”.  He put Bertsch into the game for the start of overtime.   Well at least he tried to.  Bertsch apparently checked in too late and had to wait until the first whistle, which ruined part of the idea because they lost the tip.

The other reason for the idea worked out fine.   When Bertsch finally was allowed into the game she got a roaring ovation from the crowd, which wasn’t nearly as big as the Cardinal Newman crowd, plus the student section began chanting, “Morgan, Morgan, Morgan”.

Then Morgan went out and showed everyone what the team was missing.  She scored five of Santa Rosa’s nine points and pulled down two of its three rebounds.   The big rebound came with  1:45 left when she grabbed a missed Santa Rosa shot and put it back in to give them a 50-47 lead.

Still Montgomery had a chance at the end.   After Oden hit one of two free throws, it was 54-51 with :07 left, but the Vikings couldn’t get up a shot and Santa Rosa had avoided being the second YSN No. 1 team to lose on back to back nights.

It almost turned out to be a great night for the Santa Rosa faithful.  At the same time that Santa Rosa pulled off its overtime win, there was a double overtime game going on in Ukiah against second place and No. 2 ranked Cardinal Newman.  But Cardinal Newman also won its drama, taking a 48-47 win with Kylie Kiech scoring 18 points.

So Santa Rosa, who is 19-1 on the season, maintains its one game lead over Cardinal Newman (14-6) in the league race.

The near miss by Montgomery was a tough one to swallow.   As hard as it is to believe with their history, the Vikings are in trouble for making the NBL Post Season Tournament.   They sit two games behind No.4 Casa Grande who had four players score in double figures in a 51-33 win over Maria Carrillo.

Santa Rosa travels to No. 3 Windsor on Thursday.  Windsor is two back to Santa Rosa after a 58-41 win over Rancho Cotate.

Cardinal Newman will host Casa Grande.

The other games will be Rancho Cotate at Montgomery and Ukiah at Maria Carrillo.

Other Notes:

No. 3 Analy and No. 6 Piner each won in SCL Boys Basketball.  Analy has a one game lead over Piner in the league race.

No. 9 Elsie Allen took a solid hold on the fourth and final spot for the SCL post season tournament with a 40-34 win over El Molino.   Elsie Allen is 14-7 on the season which is the most wins they have had since 2010 when they went 15-12.

Both the SRJC teams got wins at Cosumnes River.

The Men took a critical 83-78 win to move within one game of first place Cosumnes River.

The Women maintain their one game lead in the Big 8 race with a 78-63 win.   Gretchan Harrigan had 32 and ten rebounds.  Stephanie Sack had 21 and 11 assists.

My email address is jacpasquini@comcast.net