For the first time in recent memory, Colusa’s boys basketball team found themselves in the finals of their own tournament.
The RedHawks ultimately finished second in the Georgia Raczniak Tournament held in Colusa last weekend, falling to Corning in the Champinoship game after beating Maxwell and Williams.
Colusa opened the tournament against Maxwell on Thursday, and struggled to pull away from the smaller Panthers in the early goings. Panthers’ guards Daniel Lara and Greg Rangel led a Maxwell offense that was able to keep pace with Colusa in all but the third quarter. The RedHawks held just a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, and were up by five points at halftime before outscoring the Panthers 20-7 in the third.
Maxwell had some help as Colusa struggled shooting the ball, particularly from behind the arc: the RedHawks sunk just one three-pointer in 19 attempts on the night. The RedHawks shot just 36 percent (27-of-65) from the field and 59 percent (10-of-17) from the charity stripe.
Ultimately, Colusa’s Blake Steidlmayer and Gerry Moreno helped secure a Colusa victory with 14 points apiece. Tylor Gerrard finished with a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), and while Will Kalisuch struggled to find his stroke from outside, he dished out a team-high five assists in the win.
On Friday, the RedHawks faced off with the Williams Yellowjackets in the tournament semi-final. Don Bransford Gym was packed for the latest installment of what has recently been one of Colusa County’s most heated rivalries. This time around, in what was a match-up between the top-ranked teams in the Northern Section’s Division V, the RedHawks prevailed 64-51.
Will Kalisuch had a solid all-around night, and was dialed in from behind the arc against Williams, hitting four of his nine attempts. Kalisuch led Colusa with 16 points and added four rebounds, two assists, and three steals.
After Williams’ Cesar Lopez opened the game’s scoring with a three-pointer, Colusa spent the rest of the quarter gradually building a 13-8 lead heading into the second. Colusa wasted no time in expanding that lead even further, as Kalisuch came out and hit back-to-back threes. Just as Williams was beginning to whittle away at what had been a double-digit Colusa lead, Raymond Frias came off the bench for the RedHawks and made a couple of big plays on defense to swing the momentum back in his team’s favor. With Colusa playing press defense, Frias had two steals and an assist to help the RedHawks go back up by 10.
They never looked back. Colusa led by as many as 21 points while Williams was plagued by turnovers and had two starters in foul trouble – Bowen and Hunter Povlsen – for most of the second half. In addition to Kalisuch, Tylor Gerrard, Gerry Moreno, and Conner Saso each scored in double-digits for Colusa. Gerrard had his second double-double of the tournament (13 points, 13 rebounds). Williams’ Bowen led all scorers with 17 points, and Anthony Davalos added 15.
In Saturday’s championship game, Colusa was in the driver’s seat at the end of the first half, thanks in large part to Gerry Moreno’s scoring and the RedHawks ability to break the press. Despite being in foul trouble after picking up his second one early in the first quarter, Moreno set the pace for Colusa’s offense, scoring nine points in the first half in limited minutes. After Colusa made them pay for running the press in the first quarter, Corning backed off early in the second, at which point Conner Saso spurred a RedHawks scoring run. Saso was fouled driving to the hoop, drained the layup and sunk the free-throw to complete the three point play. He made another layup after a Corning turnover to put his team up 19-18. Colusa played their way to a 30-28 lead at the half.
After halftime, Corning went on a short run to jump ahead 33-30. Colusa answered back with a run of their own to tie the game at 35, but outstanding shooting from Corning’s Noah Zoppi and Brendan Hoag helped the Cardinals pull away and eventually secure a 60-49 win.
Yellowjackets take third
Opening against Gridley, Williams had one of the toughest draws of the Georgia Raczniak Tournament. The Yellowjackets came away with a major upset, defeating the Bulldogs 65-60.
Things started inauspiciously for Williams after they spotted Gridley an 8-0 lead to open the game. The Yellowjackets played from behind the entire first half until they tied the game at 30-30 with 40 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
For most of the game, Williams was able to shut down Gridley center Tyler Little, and focused on exploiting mismatches in the post with Bryson Bowen and Anthony Davalos on offense early on: when Little committed to covering one, the Yellowjackets fed the ball to the other. Davalos finished with a team-high 17 points, and Bowen with 15 points. After Little scored four points in the first quarter, the Yellowjackets held him scoreless until there were just two minutes left in the third.
After barrage of four straight threes at the end of the third quarter – two from each team – Williams’ Andres Trujllo had a pair of steals to help put his team up 47-40.
The Yellowjackets opened the final quarter with a 4-0 run, expanding their lead to double-digits, but Gridley responded with a run of their own to bring the score to 51-44. A couple of Williams turnovers and a strong fourth-quarter performance from Gridley’s Little put Gridley within four points, with just 1:36 left to play. Williams led by three when Gridley was forced to intentionally foul, sending Cesar Lopez to the line. Lopez missed his first free-throw but made the second, putting Williams up by four.
Gridley got a quick three points from Wyatt Dreesman, who scored his first points of the night coming off the bench for the Bulldogs, and closed the gap to one. Gridley then intentionally fouled Trujillo. The senior guard missed both attempts, but Anthony Davalos grabbed the rebound and scored for Williams on the put-back in the game’s waning seconds – his third put-back on a missed free-throw in the fourth quarter – to ice the game for the Yellowjackets.
After losing to Colusa in the quarterfinal of the tournament, Williams faced Yreka in the third place game and came away with a 52-48 victory. Anthony Davalos had 16 points, Bryson Bowen scored 14, and Cesar Lopez had 12 points for Williams in the win.
Pierce falls to Gridley in consolation championship
The Bears opened last week’s tournament with a tight, 43-39 loss to Yreka. They rebounded with a 63-31 throttling of Sutter to earn a spot in the Consolation Championship against Gridley, which they lost 63-31.
In Thursday’s game against the Miners, Pierce was down 22-16 at the half before outscoring Yreka 15-4 in the third quarter to take a five-point lead heading into the fourth. Pierce clung to a small lead for much of the final quarter, but Yreka – led by junior power forward Jarrett Gaither, who led all scorers with 19 points – pulled away at the end and earned a 43-39 win.
Senior guard Alex Ambriz was Pierce’s top scorer with 14 points, sophomore forward Daniel Medina had nine, and junior forward Gabe Villa had eight. Villa added seven rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steals to round out a solid all-around night.
Against the Huskies on Friday, Pierce’s offense came alive in the second half and their defense was almost impregnable, outscoring Sutter 39-6 after the intermission. The Bears were fueled by a 28-point night from a red-hot Alex Ambriz. The senior shot nearly 70 percent from the field and made half of his 10 three-point attempts. Gabe Villa had another solid outing himself with 17 points, six steals, four assists and four rebounds. So did Leo Ordaz, who had six points, seven rebounds, and seven steals.
In the Consolation Championship against Gridley on Saturday, the undersized Bears struggled to find an answer for the Bulldogs’ 6-foot, 6-inch big-man Tyler Little and lanky swing-man Grant Tull – Gridley’s standout freshman. The pair combined for 37 points to push the Bulldogs to the 67-44 victory.
Daniel Medina led Pierce’s scorers with 19 points, followed by Jonathan Corchado with 12. ■