It happens in every sport. 


It could be a rivalry, a potential playoff game or as the wins add up moving closer to that battle for first place.

The anticipation grows.

When it’s a playoff showdown, the anticipation can turn into disappointment. 

One of the most anticipated games the last few years has been the NCS Division 3 football game between Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic.   Since the State Championship game format went into effect in 2006, one of those two schools has represented Northern California in the championship game four of seven times.

When Cardinal Newman moved into Division 3 in 2010, it didn’t take long for the hope of that two powers would meet.  The first two years was disappointment. As No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, one lost before the big game could happen.

Finally in 2012, they met in the semi-finals and didn’t disappoint.  Marin Catholic fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter and 31-14 in the third before rallying to a 42-37 win.  Marin Catholic would win the NCS championship and then move onto the State Championship game.

Other rivalries are scheduled ones.  They are played yearly and are must see games.  Two were lost because of the NBL-SCL realignment. Included was the Egg Bowl between Casa Grande and Petaluma and the Grape Bowl between Healdsburg and Windsor.

One rivalry, that wasn’t lost, is the area’s biggest rivalry which is between Montgomery and Cardinal Newman.  The basketball version of that rivalry has gotten so big, that a historic decision was made.



When Cardinal Newman meets Montgomery in basketball you can be guaranteed two things.  The game will have a big bearing on a NBL championship and it will be close.

Close might be an understatement.  It is almost disappointing when there isn’t a buzzer beater when the two teams get together. 

From 2005-2012 they played 17 games.  Thirteen of the seventeen games have been decided by five points or less, eight by two points or less and four went overtime.

During that time one of the two teams at least tied for a league championship.

When it is Cardinal Newman-Montgomery game night the strategy was simple.  Get there early or you were going home early, without seeing the game.  The JV teams benefited from this. They got to play before crowds that are bigger than most Varsity games, because the fans got there early, so they wouldn’t have to go home early.  By the end of the JV game, people were being sent away and the gym would be packed.

The same thing was going to happen in 2013.  There was little doubt the two teams were the best in the area.  They were both the top two ranked teams in the both the and Press Democrat rankings. If it was possible, the anticipation for these games was bigger than the other years.

So an attempt was made and was successful to move the games to SRJC.  It is the first time in Sonoma County history a high school basketball game was moved off campus because of the crowd expected.

A Whole New World.  Montgomery and Cardinal Newman played regular season games to huge crowds at SRJC.
A Whole New World. Montgomery and Cardinal Newman played regular season games to huge crowds at SRJC.

On the original schedule, the first game was to be played on Tuesday January 15th at Cardinal Newman.  SRJC had a home basketball game that night, so for this to work the high school game would have to change dates, which they did to Monday January 14th.  That was also the first day the SRJC students returned from Christmas break and the combination of students and game made for a traffic nightmare.

It was one week that the announcement was made about the game being moved.  But the fans showed and showed and showed.  The estimated crowd for the first game was close to 2,000.  The second game that was played on February 4th, may have not had as big of crowd, but it was close.

The games themselves didn’t have the buzzer beaters that the series is known for, but made it 15 of 19 games decided by five points or less.  

This was Cardinal Newman’s year on the basketball court, winning both games.

Cardinal Newman led the first game most of the way in a 52-48 win, breaking the last tie with less than two minutes left. 

In the second game, Cardinal Newman rallied from an 18 point third quarter deficit to take a 57-54 win. 

As an added bonus, the two teams met in the NBL Post Season championship game at SRJC. With some help from the Montgomery-Santa Rosa Girls championship game, this was a turn away crowd.  Cardinal Newman also won that game 63-55. 

Since the 2006 NBL Post Season Championship game, which was a double overtime win by Cardinal Newman and started the amazing runs of close games, the series is a 10-10 tie.

Cardinal Newman won all three games against Montgomery in 2013
Cardinal Newman won all three games against Montgomery in 2013

The games were a reminder of why fans want to see a Cardinal Newman-Montgomery basketball game.  It is the best sporting event in Sonoma County.

It has gotten so big that a high school gym could no longer hold the fans for it.


No. 5…Cardinal Newman-Montgomery Basketball

No. 4…Coming Next Monday

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