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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Cardinals Advance to Semifinals with HUGE Win Over Windsor

The Cardinal Newman Cardinals went to battle in the NCS Quarterfinals against Windsor at Windsor High School Saturday with the hopes of completing one of their goals this season: Big everyone in the Oak. The Jags had beaten the Cardinals in tough, close games 3 times this year with Finn Grace, Hayden Anderson and Jayden Russotti leading the Jags charge against the Cardinals. Grace had 31 points in a comeback victory in the 2nd game against Newman at Windsor and was a huge part of the Jags win. Russotti performed well in the 1st game and helped Windsor hold the lead and win. Hayden Anderson performed well in all three games much like Grace and has added some speed to the Jags. His main sport is football; he plays WR/QB and holds an offer from Cal. The Cardinals did a good job in Game 2 and 3 holding off Russotti, but Windsor had always found a way to beat Newman.

A huge part of the Newman offense is the three headed snake of seniors Drew Krillich, Sam Cline and Gavin Vogenson. The offense and team runs around these 3 and if they all do well, Newman usually wins, but Windsor had been able to hold Cline from really breaking out for a big game. Cline had had single digit games against Windsor and even when Vogenson and Krillich had great games in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd game, the Cardinals still lost. The offense also can be diverse with playmakers like Sophomore starters Diego Gonzalez Flores and Madhi Camara, and seniors Vero Poueu and Aidan Mclaughlin coming off the bench to support the Cardinal attack. The Cardinals have what you could call an "aerial attack", with the Cardinals running a good offense that relies on great shooters and rebounding, things they are strong in with Cline, Krillich, Vogenson and Gonzalez Flores being able to hit long range shots consistently and Camara and Poueu being able to grab boards and force tough putbacks. Vogenson, Cline, Krillich and Gonzalez Flores can all penetrate the inside well and create open shots for themselves and finish well. It seems like everyone on the starting five for the Cardinals know the offense well, communicate on defense and are well disciplined. Coach Travis Taylor had the Cardinals on a 19-0 run before falling in a close 3 point game against Windsor, but Coach Taylor kept the team on track and had them at 25-3 after falling to Windsor in the NBL Championship.

This translated well into NCS Playoffs where they faced American Canyon. The Cardinals competed well against the visiting Wolves and Sam Cline got hot, hitting threes left and right and helping the Cardinals pull away. The Wolves were well coached, but couldn't keep up with the Cardinals. In the Cardinals' first game of the season, they beat the Wolves 64-46 and this time Newman played better defense, holding the Wolves to 36 points. The Cardinals won 54-36

Windsor has had an incredible and astonishing season. After parting ways with their Head Coach close to the start of the season and bringing in Head Coach Steve Kramer, the Jags were looking at a possible rebuild year after starting 2-3. After their OT loss to Acalanes, the Jags went on a 12-1 run, but lost to Monty 58-53 before beating Newman to start the momentum again. They won 3 straight after that, but fell to Analy in Sebastopol and beat Monty before playing Newman to try to win league. They won that after Grace's 31 and carried on the streak winning the next 2, capturing an NBL Oack Championship. They were given the 4 seed and had to host Vallejo, the 13th seed in the 1st Round. They played decent and won 63-49 while just south of them, #5 Newman was beating American Canyon. This all set up Pt. 4 of a great rivalry series this year between Newman and Windsor.

On a cold Saturday Night in February, these two teams met at Windsor High School to face off in another big game. The arena was packed and the 2 student sections were going crazy after every miss, make, foul call and timeout. Newman jumped out to an early lead with Drew Krillich and Diego Gonzalez Flores hitting early threes. Jayden Russotti and Finn Grace began to heat up, but Windsor kept missing shots and allowing Newman to get rebounds. Midway through the first quarter after a rebound, Hayden Anderson started limping and was pulled from the game with a foot injury. He would not return. Newman led 14-6 with 6 seconds remaining and covered Russotti well as he came up the court to try to make a buzzer-beater and Russotti threw up a shot that banked in as time ran out, pulling Newman lead to only 5.

Newman and Windsor went shot for shot in the 2nd and both teams seemed to be warm. Finn Grace led the Jags charge in the 2nd while on the other side, Sam Cline, Gvin Vogenson and Madhi Camara started heating up, but Camara got into foul trouble early which halted his great performance. The officiating was calling fouls left and right in the first half and some of the calls were questionable which lead to outrage from both coaches and the crowd, warnings against the benches and a technical foul against Newman. There were 9 fouls committed by Newman in the first half and 6 committed by Windsor. The games have been physical and there have been lots of fouls called, but the first half and some of the second half showed questionable calls and missed calls which could've been huge deciders and could've flipped momentum in the game. Regardless, Gavin Vogenson, Madhi Camara and Sam Cline combined for 17 points in the second quarter while Finn Grace had 9 of Windsor's 16 2nd Quarter points. Newman lead heading into the locker room 31-25.

The Cardinals came out ready to get going in the 3rd Quarter and held Grace to just 2 points, forcing the Jags into a single digit 3rd Quarter performance. Newman kept going with Sam Cline and Gavin Vogenson hitting tough inside shots while Madhi Camara grabbed boards while being double teamed and even triple teamed. Drew Krillich and Vero Poueu's three pointers got the crowd going as Newman cruised to a 45-34 lead heading into the final quarter. The problem with the 4th: Windsor is a team that likes to comeback in the 4th Quarter, especially against Newman. The Windsor crowd knew this and got hyped for the start of the final Quarter.

Then Finn Grace started hitting and the Newman crowd was fearful of what happened in the last 3 games happening again. Grace then missed 2 shots in arow, Sam Cline hit a three and Gavin Vogenson got a 2 that gave Newman some momentum. Finn Grace kept hitting though and Windsor cut the game to 53-52 and forced a turnover. They missed back to back threes and Gonzalez Flores got the rebound before getting fouled. Windsor only had 2 team fouls and it took 4 fouls for Windsor to put Drew Krillich on the line. Krillich hit both free throws and Windsor was down to their last chance. Windsor missed their shot and with 2 seconds left, they fouled Krillich and he hit both to put the game on ice and set the stage for an amazing semifinal matchup between Newman and Campolindo. Newman's student section stormed the court and finally were able to celebrate a win over the Jags.

The Cardinals did something Windsor wasn't anticipating: they diversified their offense. They proved they had weapons everywhere while Windsor's offense was centered around Finn Grace who had 28 points and shutting down Finn was all Newman needed to do to take away momentum. Newman was more diversified which allowed them to overwhelm Windsor while Windsor's team was forced to be centered around only Finn which allowed Newman to focus and be better composed on defense. 4 of 7 guys who played for Newman had double digits in the win while only 1 of 9 guys on Windsor had double digits. Newman played a better game and overwhelmed a very good Windsor team. Cline and Vogenson both had 14 points, Krillich had 10, Madhi Camara had 11, Poueu had 5 and Gonzalez Flores had 3. Newman's shooting, rebounding and finishing strengths allowed them to swing the momentum with their guards hitting tough shots that got the student section going crazy and their forwards finishing well while being double, triple or even quadruple teamed after getting rebounds. Newman played a very good game, arguably one of their best because it showed how well they developed this year and how strong their chemistry is.

Windsor played a very good game even when one of their starters was sidelined. Finn Grace who has been incredible all year had another great performance, putting up 28 points for the Jags. The problem was that the Jags had trouble making their shots and diversifying their offense which had been huge in the previous games against Newman. They were unable to overwhelm and force the Cardinals to be out of sync with each other and it hurt them. Windsor had been good at stopping Sam Cline and the Newman offense while hitting key shots at key times to win momentum and eventually, the game. Newman got their offense going and on defense, the Cardinals were able to hold the Windsor offense. Other than Grace having 28, Russotti finished with 7, Colin Kraft had 2, Joseph Campbell had 4, Ben Geist had 4, Liam West had 2 and Judson Anderson had 3 points. Campbell and Geist had had huge supporting parts in Windsor's wins over the Cardinals but were limited by Newman's defense in matchup #4. Windsor has a very small chance of making the NorCal Playoffs and if they don't, they have had a fantastic season and have proven that they have the pieces necessary to comeback next year and be good in the Oak again. So if you are a fan of the Jags, think of this year like New York Giants fans thought of their football season this year. Going from being the worst in their division to going to the playoffs and winning their first round game. Think of this season as a great success.

Newman fans, this season has been incredible and the job isn't finished just yet. Coach Travis Taylor has found his footing at Newman and has built a great team this year that is a sign of things to come. No matter what, this season has been one that has been fantastic to watch and has had a team that has a strong core and chemistry. All 8 seniors this year have made an impact not only on the court for an amazing squad but also as mentors towards future players who will carry on the winning culture on the Cardinal Newman program. The future is bright at Cardinal Newman.

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Feb 20, 2023

Well done, Hugo!

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