Smokey Robinson had the Miracles. Gladys Knight had the Pips. Bob Marley had the Wailers.
Like so many great musicians, the backing band often gets overlooked. But if you stop for a second and listen …. truly listen … to the music behind the amazing singer, you’ll often be impressed at what you hear.
The Enterprise boys basketball team is a little like Smokey and Miracles in that, at first blush, it appears to be Demarreya and the Hornets.
Lewis-Cooper, the sophomore sensation well on his way to one-day achieving MVP status, is the focal point of the Black and Gold attack. The point guard with lightning fast hands, handles that belong on the playground courts of his father’s Chicago upbringing and an uncanny knack for big plays draws attention, deserved attention, on both ends of the court.
But just like Dr. Dre needed Snoop Dogg (for a musical reference someone under 30 might understand) to make “The Chronic” what it is, DLC isn’t just a one-man band.
And that showed Friday in the Hornets’ 67-63 Northern Section Division III win over rival Shasta at Manatowa Gymnasium. All Shasta County Sports playoffs coverage is presented by Redding Rancheria.
DLC had his moments in the limelight to be certain. But this was a night where the guitar player and drummer stole the show with epic solos that advanced the Hornets on to next week’s semifinal showdown with No. 1 seed Foothill.
Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports
The stars on display Friday were DLC’s fellow sophomore Brennan Ramirez and senior Jermaine Mondaine, who has been a Shasta slayer all season. In fact, all five of the Hornet starters – they usually only go six players deep – did something to make sweet music for Black and Gold fans.
Ramirez hit six 3-pointers – with at least one in each quarter – while finishing with a game-high 22 points. Mondaine added 19, including 12 in the second half. Gage Owen was the fly at the picnic, taking charges and disrupting the flow of the Shasta offense quite often. And Kobe Fuller played lockdown defense and picked his spots for a pair of big 3-pointers.
And of course, DLC dazzled with 12 points, including a big bucket right before half and a few clutch free throws down the stretch.
“The coaching staff does a good job with them, they know their roles and they play their roles well,” Shasta coach Jordan Freilich said. “I think Mondaine always plays really well against us and Ramirez hit every open shot that he saw tonight. He was great for them.”
Ramirez started his triple barrage in the first quarter, canning a wide open look from the right corner in what was an otherwise ugly period, offensively, for both teams.
He opened the second quarter with a money ball from the left wing and then allowed Mondaine and his mates to solo as Enterprise worked an eight-point lead at the break. Owen hit free throws, Fuller poured one from range, Lewis-Cooper hit a runner in the lane before Mondaine daggered a 3-ball from the right wing. DLC ended the half with a spinning move in the lane that saw a teardrop float in for a 31-23 edge.
Enterprise coach Jim Deaver said while it often can appear to DLC and the Hornets, his starting five is solid and tight and it showed in four wins over Shasta this season in five tries – only the second time the rivals have managed to play five times in one season in the past 20 years.
“It is (the focus on Demarreya), but our three seniors that start with the two sophomores have taken this team and grown together,” the coach said.
And it showed as the Hornets had the Wolves on the ropes after Armal Dhinsa was whistled for a blocking foul that also drew a technical foul on Freilich with Shasta down 39-27.
Four free throw chances and the ball out of bounds could’ve been a seven-point swing. Instead, the Hornets hit just two freebies and tuned the ball over on a 5-second call trying to inbound.
“We missed both T’s and then turn it over. We had all this momentum and it was gone,” Deaver said.
And that’s when Ramirez was at his best on Friday. After missing from distance, Owen grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked back to the shooter, who sank a 10-footer. After Shasta’s Jacob Singleton scored off an assist from JT Beasley – who had a solo-worthy night of his own with 19 points while setting the tone for the Wolves – Ramirez staunched any momentum the Wolves thought they might’ve had.
“He hit some big shots tonight. Big shots,” Deaver said.
The sophomore said while it’s certainly a team effort, he knew he was feeling it early.
“It’s something when you’re feeling it and the crowd is hyped and want you to shoot the ball, so you just shoot and hope it goes in,” he said. “It’s nice when I’m feeling it. They get me to ball and trust me to hit the shot.”
But what would a Shasta-Enterprise game be without it coming down to the fourth period, right?
After the Wolves cut it to five just inside the fourth quarter, Ramirez again stepped up for the spotlight solo, hitting a trey from the right wing.
“I like to think that before the game that they’re going to focus on (Demarreya), so I like when I stepped up,” Ramirez said. “I did it against PV when they were focused on D and Jermaine and hit the shots.”
And when Ramirez’s solo was finished, it was time for Mondaine – perhaps the most-improved player this season – to step up for his performance.
He hit a 12-footer in the key to give Enterprise a 60-49 edge and muscled-up on a shot in the lane on the ensuing possession to take a little of the sting out of a Beasley 3-pointer.
“We all do the little things,” Ramirez said. “Gage takes the charges, he’s a beast on defense. Kobe locks down the best player. I get my open shots and try to contain the big guys every night and Demarreya does his thing – always. Jermaine has just gone off this year.”
And that’s music to Deaver’s ears.
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