Mount Shasta’s Kody Bauman blocks Durham’s Jeremy Schafer in the first half of the Bears’ 61-41 Northern Section Division V championship win. (Photo courtesy of Eddie Saltzman)
The Mount Shasta boys basketball team had been tested once all season. That was a 73-68 loss to Klamath Union on Dec. 7.
Since that defeat, the Bears had won 23 straight – all by double-digits – heading into Friday’s Northern Section Division V final at Butte College against No. 2 Durham.
Mount Shasta came back from a 28-24 halftime deficit to make it 24 straight wins and back-to-back Division V championships as Kole Ricomini scored 27 and brother Kaden Ricomini added 20 in the Bears 61-41 win over the Trojans. All Shasta County Sports basketball playoff coverage is sponsored by Redding Rancheria.
Bears coach Cliff Blakely said it was good, in a way, that his squad got challenged by the Trojans in the first half.
“We weren’t playing good team basketball,” he said. “Our defense was not getting much pressure and we weren’t rebounding very well.”
And speaking of pressure, you could feel it on the Mount Shasta side as Durham kept answering each basket in a see-saw first half.
Kole Ricomini scored to start the second quarter and break a 14-all tie and the Bears held a 20-15 lead on Tristan Ellerbe’s back-cut layup fed off a Kole Ricomini pass with 5:30 left until intermission.
But the Trojans were undaunted as Colby Del Carlo cleaned up his own miss to pull Durham to 20-19 and Braeden Southam gave his team a lead with two free throws. Southam would put Durham up 25-22 with a baseline drive runner and Del Carlo’s right-wing 3-pointer would send the Trojans into the locker room believing in an upset.
At intermission, Blakeley didn’t tell his team to settle down facing its biggest adversity of the season. In fact, his advice was quite the opposite.
“I told them to pick it up, more than settle down,” he said after the game.
And the Bears responded, turning a four-point deficit into a 12-point lead with a dominating 19-3 third-quarter push that broke the game open.
Kody Bauman , who played tremendous defense in the first half and blocked a handful of shots, hit one of two free throws before Kole Ricomini tied the game at 28 with a stepback 3-pointer – the Bears only shot from range that fell all night.
“All season, the 3s have been going but tonight they weren’t so we had to change it up,” Blakely said.
At the 5:10 mark, Kaden Ricomini hit a running 8-footer in the paint and Kole Ricomini followed that with an old-fashioned 3-point play on a putback of his own miss down low and added a coast-to-coast layup top make the score 35-28 as Durham coach Joshua Holbrook called timeout to regroup follwing the 11-0 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter. In that time, Durham was 0-for-10 from the field and wouldn’t score in the period until Southam hit a trey with 40 seconds remaining in the third and the Trojans trailing 43-31 heading into the final eight minutes.
Durham would only close the gap to 10 early in the fourth as Jeremy Schafer hit a low-post bucket before Kaden Ricomini went on a personal 8-1 run with a jumper and 6 straight free throws as the Trojans tried to extend the game.
Durham – 14, 14, 3, 10 – 41
Mount Shasta – 14, 10, 19, 18 – 61
Durham – Husa 2, Jones 2, Buck 4, Schafer 9, Del Carlo 11, Southam 13.
Mount Shasta – Ferguson 2, Bauman 2, Ellerbe 4, Snure 6, Kaden Ricomini 20, Kole Ricomini 27.
3-pointers – Durham-3: Del Carlo, Southam (2); Mount Shasta-1: Kole Ricomini.
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