Going into Thanksgiving break, the Knights were pretty confident about their 7-3 start. So much so coach Kele Fitzhugh rewarded them with some time off during the holiday.
Until Saturdays’ 75-62 Golden Valley Conference win against visiting Feather River in the Sierra Pacific Industries College Game of the Week, Shasta College had not shown it was capable of tapping into that style of play since November.
“We haven’t played with the same energy and desire, like we forgot how,” Fitzhugh said. “We didn’t play that way against Siskiyous (on Wednesday) but you saw it tonight. At this level, you have to play hard every night, you have to want it (and) fight for it.”
Shasta snapped a five-game losing skid and picked up its first GVC win behind Simmer Singh’s game-high 26 points and got 19 points out of sophomore Zach Thompson. The Knights went away from their recent recipe of playing second-half catch-up and jumped out to an 11-0 lead with baskets from four different players.
The slow start is a trend the Knights have been trying to reverse.
“When we come out with energy and ready to play and focused, we can beat anyone,” said Thompson, who scored 15 points in the first half.
Feather River cut the Shasta lead to four late in the first half but Shasta answered with a 13-5 run over the next 6-plus minutes before the Golden Eagles hit a 3 at the end of half to trail 37-28.
Singh opened the second half with an and-1 to stretch the lead to 12 but Shasta had a few possessions without urgency and let Feather River stick around. Three straight missed layups by Shasta coupled with back-to-back 3s from John Cooley and another from Jake Rick put Feather River ahead for the first time at 49-48 midway through the second half.
The lead would change two more times as Shasta’s Michael Plunkitt and Feather River’s Peyton Schneringer traded old-fashioned three-point plays before Derek Gorden scored six straight points via a free throw, 3-pointer and inside bucket to put Shasta ahead 60-55.
A 3 from Feather River cut it to four but Singh took over and Shasta answered with an 11-2 run to pull away.
Gorden drove the lane, spun around and kicked to Singh at the top of the key for a downtown bucket. Feather River turned it over after that and Singh capitalized with a basket to put the Knights up nine. He made two more free throws with 1:51 left, Plunkitt stole the ball after and the Golden Eagles were forced to play the foul game.
“Once we start moving and talking and sharing the pass that opens up opportunities,” Fitzhugh said. “Simmer hits that big 3 because of the penetration and that was a big boost for us.”
Gorden and Thompson each hit their pair of freebies and the Knights walked away with a signature victory.
“It was really important because we haven’t had a win in awhile,” said Singh, who scored nine points in the final five minutes.
Feather River’s Jake Rick, John Cooley and Lucas Saleh each scored 15 points.
Shasta plays at No. 18 Butte on Saturday.
Feather River 28-34—62
Feather River (1-1 GVC, 6-12): Rick 15, Saleh 15, Cooley 15, Thompson 8, Schneringer 6, Preston 3.
Shasta (1-1 GVC, 10-10): Singh 26, Thompson 19, Gorden 12, Plunkitt 7, Bidwell 5, Hoag 4, Cruz 2.
3-pointers—Feather River 12: Cooley (5), Saleh (3), Schneringer (1), Thompson (1), Preston (1); Shasta 7: Singh (3), Thompson (2), Bidwell (1).
Team GVC, Overall
#14 Redwoods 1-0, 14-3
Siskiyous 1-0, 7-11
Shasta 1-1, 10-10
Feather River 1-1, 6-12
#18 Butte 0-1, 10-7
Lassen 0-1, 4-11
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