It’s a picture that will go down in the annals of the Shasta-Enterprise rivalry — James Weaver flexing while being hoisted by The Pit after a Wolves victory. The only footnote is that Weaver was being hailed for his basketball prowess.
That’s right, it was not River Bowl.
Shasta’s bell cow running back had a monster night against Enterprise on Friday at Harlan Carter Gymnasium, dropping a career-high 26 points on the Hornets and helping the Wolves snap a three-game hardwood losing skid to their rivals with a 71-68 overtime victory.
Weaver dropped 18 in the first half and five in the overtime, including the game-winning 3-pointer from the right wing.
And while the offensive outburst might seem way out of left field to further mix sports metaphors, Weaver’s offensive game has been building in the past few weeks.
Last week against Chico, Weaver hit a pair of first-half 3-pointers before a head-to-head collision sent him to the ER for 11 stitches along his right eyebrow line.
“The last few weeks I’ve been putting in extra time after practice and I think that’s what gave me the confidence,” Weaver said. “I feel like my defensive game has always been my strong point, I just had to work on my offense.
“I’m just an athlete. I just come out here to compete and give it my best every night.”
Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports
And Friday, he was on point, a night akin to a 300-yard, 5-TD performance in River Bowl.
He started out with a 12-footer in the lane and followed that with a pair of freebies after attacking the bucket late in the first period. With the Wolves trailing by as much as 12 in the opening frame, he closed the quarter with a basket off a JT Beasley dime. But it was the second quarter that he exploded — scoring 13 points, including the team’s first 4-point play of the season.
Weaver scored down low off a double-pump fake after the defense collapsed on Simon Turner. With 3:40 left in the half, he hit a right-wing triple and added free throws after yanking a defensive rebound and getting fouled in transition. He hit a 3-pointer from the right side with under a minute and was fouled as the ball sailed through the air. He hit the and-one as the teams deadlocked at 31 heading to the locker room.
And while the second half total was limited to a third-quarter trey and fourth-period bucket, he was also busy squaring up on Enterprise sophomore phenom Demarreya Lewis-Cooper, who along with Jermaine Mondaine combined for 57 of Enterprise’s 68 points.
“That’s really James’ first job — to play defense and then the offense is icing on the cake,” Wolves coach Jordan Freilich said. “There was a lot of icing tonight.”
And while DLC dropped 28 on Friday, the game within the game also treated fans to a pair of childhood friends standing toe-to-toe in this small town’s biggest stage. Make no mistake, despite a population of 90,000 or so, Redding is a small town.
The kind of place where two kids from different backgrounds and races grow up together, play youth sports together and then excel in their respective sports.
Weaver and Lewis-Cooper once won a pee wee football championship for the Shasta Jr. Wolves as backfield mates. And full disclosure, I helped coach that championship team, though I take little credit for the juggernaut of Shake and Bake, as they were known in those days.
“It was fun to play against him, especially since both of us were hot tonight,” Lewis-Cooper said. “We’ve played together, AAU and stuff, for years. I could tell (he was feeling it) after he hit his first few (shots).
“I like it when he guards me. It pumps me up and I think gets both of us going.”
And both friends were on fire Friday. Lewis-Cooper scored the Hornets’ final six points in regulation and before hitting two huge 3-pointers in overtime.
Not lost in Weaver’s monster night were performances by Mondaine, who scored a game-high 29, and Turner, who scored 16 points but none bigger than the two free throws he sank with Shasta trailing 55-53 with 5.4 left in regulation.
And while Turner extended the game for the Wolves, and Mondaine and Lewis-Cooper put a Black and Gold team on their back in hostile territory, it was Weaver who ended the game with an exclamation point with 20 ticks on the overtime clock.
“That was big,” Freilich said. “It takes huge stones to take the shot. But that’s James.
“James is never going to shy away from a big moment. I think football has prepared him for that. There was no doubt that thing was going down.”
The Wolves had just called timeout with 29.5 second left on the clock and 23 on the shot clock. Beasley inbounded to Jacob Singleton and was cut off as he received the return pass. Forced to reset, Beasley dribbled right wing and drove middle, drawing a triple-team in the paint.
He kicked to Weaver on the wing in front of the Shasta bench and the wide-open shot sailed until it ripped nylon.
“I knew it was going in,” said Weaver, who ranked the shot second behind finding River Bowl pay dirt. “I was feeling it.”