Shasta College’s men’s basketball team goes over a play during a timeout against Santa Rosa Friday night in the Sierra Pacific Industries College Game of the Week in the Shasta Invitation. (Photo by T.J. Holmes/Shasta County Sports)
One sophomore on a team of all freshman nearly pulled off the upset of the year two weeks into the season.
Shasta College’s men’s basketball team was outscored 7-1 in the final 2 minutes of play to fall 75-71 at home to No. 6 Santa Rosa Friday night in the opening round of the Shasta College Invitational and the Sierra Pacific Industries College Game of the Week.
Michael Plunkitt’s steal and fast-break layup and a free throw from Elijah Ramirez gave Shasta a 70-68 lead. But Santa Rosa’s Skylar Chavez delivered blow after blow, scoring all seven of the Bear Cubs’ final points to finish off the young Knights.
“He’s a Division I player and would be in the running for player of the year in the North for sure,” Shasta College head coach Kele Fitzhugh said of Chavez who entered averaging 23 points per game. “We knew we weren’t going to stop him but the goal was to make him make difficult shots and he did just that.”
Chavez scored a game-high 36 points, knocking down four 3s and 10 of 11 from the line, including both ends of a 1-and-1 with 10.2 seconds left with Santa Rosa (3-1) leading by three to seal it.
Shasta (1-4) never trailed by more than three points in the game until the final 10 seconds.
“It’s going to be a learning curve and that’s what tonight was,” Fitzhugh said. “I told them it’s all about development this time of year. If we just chase wins then we’re not focusing on all of the things we need to be doing well to keep improving.”
Tanner Guinn, the Knights’ lone sophomore, lit up the scoreboard in the first half. He led all scorers with 21 points at the break, draining catch-and-shoot jumpers and pull-up 3-pointers to help Shasta go into halftime tied at 37.
But Guinn’s game didn’t transfer over into the second half as Santa Rosa adjusted on Shasta’s hottest shooter. Guinn’s only second-half bucket came around the 3-minute mark to put Shasta ahead 67-65.
“He started thinking ‘I had a good first half and I’m going to continue it in the second half,’” Fitzhugh said. “Those times are great to get other teammates involved instead of forcing it. He said ‘yeah, I was pushing too much’ and that’s part of our development.”
Shasta’s Zach Thompson ignited a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and Jalen Evans spun around to lay-in a left-handed shot to a take a 57-55 lead midway through the second half.
Ryan Perez buried a pair of 3-pointers 2 minutes later to regain the lead at 61-59. Plunkitt attacked the rim for a dish to Evans for 2 and a layup before Guinn’s bucket put Shasta up four.
But Perez knocked down another 3 – his fourth of the game – followed by Chavez’s trey to flip the momentum in the Bear Cubs favor. Chavez made a pull-up jumper from the elbow for a 73-70 advantage with 52 seconds left but Plunkitt missed a contested layup after and the Knights waited 13 seconds to foul Chavez with 10 seconds remaining. He made both free throws to put the Knights away.
Guinn finished with 23 points and six rebounds while Evans contributed a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Plunkitt added nine points and Thompson finished with eight points.
Shasta College plays Saturday at 5 p.m. against No. 18 Foothill College.
Cabrillo 64, Siskiyous 59
The Eagles trailed 29-23 at halftime and Alex Vasquez scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, but Cabrillo finished strong at the end for the win.
Siskiyous’ J’Quall Hanks scored 12 points and Cabrillo’s Trey Whitley scored 19 points and Avery Edwards scored 10 points.
Siskiyous (0-6) plays Saturday at 7 p.m. while Cabrillo plays Santa Rosa Sunday at 2 p.m.