Butte sophomore Eric Boose goes up for a reverse layup in the second half as Shasta’s Brendan Hoag (left) a Corning graduate can only watch. Boose was dominant in the lane all afternoon in Butte’s 76-69 win (Eddie Saltzman – Contributed)
Article by Will Denner — Chico Enterprise-Record
BUTTE VALLEY — As Shasta’s offense stalled for a six-minute period in the second half, Butte feasted on the Knights’ sudden famine.
Shasta College led for much of the first half Saturday, before a scoring drought in the second half turned a 10-point lead into a deficit as large as 10 at the other end.
The Roadrunners (9-10, 2-0 Golden Valley Conference) won 76-69 Saturday night at home and grew their winning streak to five games. Shasta (3-14, 1-1) was dealt its first conference loss.
Butte’s Eric Boose scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half, and Tanner Guinn led Shasta with 18 points, all of which came in the first half.
“Our defense fueled our offense,” said Butte’s Noah Zoppi, whose 16 points ranked second on the team behind Boose. “We really started to get rebounds and just push. I feel like we weren’t doing that enough in the first half.”
Shasta weathered an early 7-2 Butte run and took a 16-13 lead, one the Knights carried through the remainder of the half, when Guinn spotted up for a 3-pointer a little less than six minutes into the game.
The game stayed within four points for the ensuing nine minutes, until Guinn keyed a stretch in which he scored 11 straight for Shasta.
It started with a layup at the 6:21 mark, followed by a pair of made free throws and another layup. Out of a timeout, Guinn banked in another layup from straight on and added a deep ball to put the Knights up 31-26 with approximately three minutes to go in the half.
“Our energy was just up,” Guinn said. “We were playing great as a team; defensive-wise we were doing good. We knew we had to box out and get rebounds, because they’re a good rebounding team. I thought we were doing that in the first half.”
That energy seemingly carried over into the second half, when Shasta’s 37-33 lead ticked up to 10.
Michael Plunkitt hit a pair at the line, Zach Thompson drilled a 3, then Jalen Evans converted a layup and made a free throw, all within the first two minutes. Those were the last points the Knights would get until 11:34 remained on the clock.
The Roadrunners’ transition game began to heat up when Reece Kettle came off the bench to hit a 3-ball, before Zoppi’s fastbreak layup and another Kettle triple tied the game at 45 with 15:40 left.
Zoppi then drew a charge, and Boose finished on the other end with a smooth up-and-under layup, giving the Roadrunners a 47-45 lead — their first of the half. Boose scored on the following two possessions, before the 18-0 run finally came to an end when Shasta’s Corey Busta drew a foul and made two free throws.
“They started reading our plays a lot better,” Guinn said. “Sometimes we were forcing the one-on-one type of thing and not really moving the ball very well, and I wasn’t able to get my shot up. They were playing really good defense.”
Shasta drew within two points with 5:53 remaining after Plunkitt scored a layup on a second-chance opportunity. But with the Roadunners in the double bonus for the final 4:43, they made 7-of-8 free throws (and 22-of-28 for the game) to put the game on ice.
Evans and Corning High alumnus Brendan Hoag each chipped in 10 for Shasta. Butte’s Kehmarr McMillian also reached double figures with 13 points.
“We feel like we’re the underdog, as far as, there’s a couple teams ranked higher than us in our conference,” said McMillian, a Chico High alumnus. “Obviously we think we’re the best team, so we’re just going to keep trying to be the best team.”
Are the Roadrunners being overlooked? Perhaps, though they don’t seem to mind.
“Definitely, they’re sleeping on us, but we can’t do nothing about that,” McMillian said. “Just got to keep going every day, get better, just keep meshing.”
Butte 76, Shasta 69
Shasta (3-14, 1-1 GVC) — Plunkitt 9, Guinn 18, Bidwell 5, Busta 2, Thompson 9, Evans 10, Hoag 10, Ramirez 6.
Butte (9-10, 2-0 GVC) — Ochoa 9, McMillian 13, Boose 29, Kettle 7, Zoppi 16, Marbley 2.
3-point goals — Shasta 7 (Guinn 2, Thompson 2, Plunkitt, Evans, Ramirez); Butte 4 (Ochoa 2, Kettle 2).