Moments after the first meeting between Cardinal Newman and Montgomery, a 55-35 win for Cardinal Newman, a Cardinal Newman fan mentioned to me missing the guard can’t be that big of a difference can it?.
He got his answer last night.
Comparing those two games you might get your definition of  a Most Valuable Player.
That guard is Michael Septimo and in his second game back since an injury in December, he scored 32 points, 29 in the first three quarters to lead Montgomery to a 50-40 win over Cardinal Newman and change the NBL race again.
The amazing thing about his scoring is that Montgomery needed it or it probably would have been a much different result.  He scored his 32nd and last point with a little over five minutes left in the game.  That tied what Cardinal Newman had as a team at that point and yet Montgomery still only had a seven point lead.
He was that dominant.
The way the game started it appeared that he would  make a statement that he was back.  He score Montgomery’s first ten points, two of them on three point shots.  The second three gave Montgomery a 10-7 lead with under a minute left in the first quarter.  Cardinal Newman didn’t score the last 4:40 of the first quarter, after they had taken a 7-4 lead, which would be its last lead of the night.
Joe Peterich hit a three point shot to start Montgomery’s scoring in the second quarter.  That was the first Montgomery point that wasn’t scored by Septimo, who scored the next 10 Viking points to give him 19 as they took a 26-19 lead.
It was more of the same in the third quarter.  Septimo hit a three to start the scoring and, Montgomery had a 29-19 lead. That was when Cardinal Newman had their chance, as Montgomery, including Septimo, went over the next four minutes without a point.  Cardinal Newman made a little run as the only other bright offensive spot of the game, Justin Botteri scored four of his team high 14 to start a mini 6-0 run and it was a 29-25.

Septimo pog
Michael Septimo was a no brainer for our choice as the Les Schwab Player of the Game.

The streak was stopped by Septimo, who scored the next five points to give Montgomery back control 34-25.
Cardinal Newman didn’t go away.  Two free throws by Botteri with 6:44 left cut the lead to 36-32, but Septimo hit a free throw and a two to make it 39-32.
Then came one of the biggest offensive series of the night and surprisingly it didn’t end with a basket by Septimo.  With the shot clock running down, Jack Fitchie nailed a three pointer to make it 42-32 with 3:30 left. It was Fitchie’s first points of the night.  He would hit three free throws in the last :33.4 in the game.  He had major impact on defense, just as Septimo did on offense by shadowing Cardinal Newman’s leading scorer Connor Rubattino most of the night and holding him to nine points.
Septimo didn’t score the last five minutes of the game, but the fans who packed the John Fitzgerald gym knew he was there.  Cardinal Newman went into a frantic press in trying to create the magic that led to the Monday rally against Casa Grande.  Septimo was double teamed several times down the stretch, but wouldn’t make the damaging turnover that would change the momentum.  Some of his passes were magic as was an assist on a basket by Matt Hyman, which made the score 44-34 with 2:40 to go.
There would be no magic this night, as Cardinal Newman drops its record to 17-2. Montgomery is now 11-9 on the season.  It is the first time that Montgomery is two games over .500 since they were 5-3.  That was one game after Septimo went down with his injury.
No. 3 Montgomery 50 No. 1 Cardinal Newman 40
No. 2 Casa Grande 57 Santa Rosa 31
No. 6 Windsor 52 Ukiah 37
Maria Carrillo 69 Rancho Cotate 42
This wasn’t the best night for getting details of games.
Casa Grande does take back over sole possession of first place at 7-1.  They are one game ahead of Cardinal Newman, Montgomery and Windsor.  None of the leaders meet on Friday.
Clayton Andrews scored 28 as Maria Carrillo defeated Rancho Cotate.
No. 4 Elsie Allen 45 Healdsburg 33
No. 5 Piner  67  El Molino 27
Sonoma Valley 53 No. 8 Analy 46
Petaluma BYE
Another player returned from injury as Elsie Allen beat Healdsburg.  Joe Hoeup played his first game of the season for Elsie Allen and scored nine points. Hoeup, who led the SCL in scoring last season, broke an ankle in the opening scrimmage of the season.  Jalen Busby had 19 points for Elsie Allen.
Landon Courtman scored 13 for Healdsburg, who had a 24-15 lead halfway the third quarter.  Elsie Allen scored the next 13 points to take control of the game and raise its record to 16-5.
There are no details of Sonoma Valley’s upset of Analy.
Since  Piner won they are in a first place tie with Elsie Allen, one game ahead of Analy.  Sonoma Valley, who all but wrapped up the final spot in the SCL post season tournament.
On Friday Night, Elsie Allen is at Piner for what will be a game for sole possession of first place.
No. 1 Cardinal Newman at Rancho Cotate
No. 2 Santa Rosa at No. 5 Windsor
No. 9 Ukiah at No. 8 Montgomery
Maria Carrillo at Casa Grande
Rancho Cotate is coming off its first league win in nearly three seasons and its reward is a home game with Cardinal Newman.
This could be the start of something good for Rancho Cotate.  They have a small roster of eight, which includes four sophomores and a freshman.  The freshman, Camille Spackman, is the team’s leading scorer at 15.0 points a game. Sophomore Reilani Peleti is second at 13.7 and is second in the team in rebounds behind another sophomore Kaela Velles.  So the future does look promising.
The biggest game, playoff wise, is Ukiah at Montgomery.  The two teams are tied for the fourth and final spot for the NBL post season tournament.  Montgomery doesn’t have to play Cardinal Newman again, Ukiah does.  Montgomery took the first game up in Ukiah 60-47.
Santa Rosa goes into its game with Windsor with a two game lead in the battle for second place.  Windsor is one game ahead of Montgomery and Ukiah.
No. 4 Analy at Healdsburg LIVE BROADCAST
No. 6 Petaluma at Piner
El Molino at Elsie Allen
No. 3 Sonoma Valley BYE
Analy can take over sole possession of first place with a win over Healdsburg.  Analy moved into a first place tie on Tuesday thanks to the Sonoma Valley loss to Petaluma.  Sonoma Valley has the league bye.
Healdsburg is in fourth place, one game behind Petaluma, who is one game out of first.
Next week Analy meets both Sonoma Valley and Petaluma.
The SRJC Men were defeated by Cosumnes River 69-55 on Tuesday Night.
On Friday the Bear Cubs will be at Modesto.
The conference race is at the halfway point.  SRJC is 4-3 in league play, which is a three way tie for third place, one game behind Cosumnes River and Sierra.
The defending state champions are now 11-10 overall.
Modesto is 5-14 overall and 2-5 in league play.
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