Shasta’s Caden Cushman, seen in a file photo, led the Wolves with 22 points in their 75-58 rivalry win over Enterprise on Tuesday at Harlan Carter Gym. (Photo by Mike Daly / Shasta County Sports)
For Shasta, it was a night where everything clicked. For Enterprise, it was a wake-up call.
The Wolves came out from the gate, raced out to a 17-point halftime lead and never looked back en route to a 75-58 win over the Hornets on Tuesday at Harlan Carter Gym. The victory served as the fulfillment, for at least one night, of the promise the Wolves can show with a collection of talent that makes them perhaps the deepest team in the section. The loss served as a reminder for the Hornets, coach Jim Deaver said, that you had better show up every night in Eastern Athletic League play and into the playoffs.
“We’ve been on a roll and we all kind of got happy with ourselves,” Deaver said. “It was good wake-up call for them, for all of us. I told the kids I know you’re down, but that’s the best loss you could’ve had. Now, you understand that anything can happen.”
The rematch from a nine-point Enterprise win on Jan. 16 was a role reversal from the start. In the first league meeting, the Hornets jumped out to a 10-0 lead, actually blanking the Wolves in the first period. Tuesday, it was the Wolves who jumped out to the 10-0 lead as Armal Dhinsa opened the scoring with back-to-back-back buckets in the paint, followed by a Caden Turner 3-pointer and a Dhinsa free throw as the home team led 10-0 midway through the first period.
“Our guys, at home, we had to answer the bell,” Shasta coach Jordan Freilich said. ‘If you look at the team goal (tonight) it’s play with fire and win 50/50s and they absolutely did that. Our guys finally played with fire.”
The Hornets took only four shots from the field, making four, while the Wolves were 10-of-14 from the field in the opening period, jumping to a 23-10 edge after the first eight minutes.
“We started off slow,” Enterprise point guard Demarreya Lewis-Cooper said. “I think we came in thinking we would blow them out.”
After winning the opening quarter, the Wolves didn’t let off the gas, opening a 15-point lead as Caden Cushman hit a runner 90 seconds in the period for two of his game-high 22 points. Eight Wolves would score in the game as Shasta got offensive contributions from its usual suspects – JT Beasley had 15, Caden Turner scored 11 and Dhinsa added 10 – while role guys stepped up and added to the home team’s side. Cade Corontzos played tough defense on Enterprise center Khristian Clements while adding even points and Shasta post Simon Turner added six points.
“It’s easy to be unselfish when you know everyone is playing hard. I think that’s ultimately what you want from your teammates,” Freilich said. ‘That’s what we’ve been talking about as a staff and that leads to good defense and good offense. It’s fun basketball.”
Dilraj Sahota scored two points – coming a week after dropping 30 on Foothill in a loss – but grabbed nine rebounds in what Freilich said was probably the biggest key to the game.
“He’s that important that if he gets double-digit rebounds I like our chances,” the coach said.
Enterprise cut the Wolves’ lead to nine, 29-20 on a Kobe Fuller trey with 5:30 left in the half, but that’s as close as the Hornets would get the rest of the night. Caden Turner answered back with a layup in traffic, Beasley hit an eight-foot floater and two possessions later James Weaver found Beasley on a back-door cut for a layup and a 35-20 lead.
The Wolves took a 40-23 lead into the locker room after Corontzos hit a putback at the buzzer.
“We didn’t play defense like we do, shoot, we gave up 40 points in the first half; we don’t give 40 points in games,” Deaver said.
Shasta kept its lead from 14 to 20 throughout the third period before boosting it to 21 with 5:40 left in the fourth as Cushman hit a step-back 3-pointer to give the Wolves a 61-40 lead.
“I hit my first shot and was feeling good, said the senior Cushman. “Everyone was feeling great and we just fed off each other.”
Only stellar play – and a glimpse of the future – from Enterprise Lewis-Cooper kept the game from really getting out of hand as the freshman had 12 of his team-high 26 in the final quarter.
Shasta hosts Red Bluff on Friday for Senior Night, while Enterprise travels to Chico. It appears as though the Wolves are locked into the No. 4 spot in the Division III playoffs, while the Hornets appear to be the four-seed. Chico is the No. 5 seed currently, while Red Bluff sits at No. 6. If things remain the same, Shasta would host Chico in the opening round and Enterprise would host Red Bluff. The playoff seeding meeting is Saturday morning.
Enterprise – 10, 13, 12, 23 – 58
Shasta 23, 17, 13, 22 – 75
Enterprise – B. Ramirez 1, M. Ramirez 1, Clements 3, Owen 5, Fuller 8, Shoff 14, Lewis-Cooper 26
Shasta – Weaver 2, Sahota 2, S. Turner 6, Corontzos 7, Dhinsa 10, C. Turner 11, Beasley 15, Cushman 22
3-pointers – Enterprise: 7 Owen, Shoff (2), Lewis-Cooper (2), Fuller (2); Shasta: 5 Dhinsa, C. Turner (2), Cushman (2).