For the better part of three quarters, the Colusa RedHawks boys basketball team looked poised to capture its first Northern Section Division V crown in more than 25 years against Mt. Shasta on Friday afternoon.
Playing against the No. 1-seeded Bears in the NSCIF Division V finals at Butte College in Oroville, the No. 2-seeded RedHawks led by as many as nine points in the first half, and held a 33-27 lead when the second quarter ended. It seemed as if every time the Mt. Shasta began to close the gap in the first half, the Redhawks would put together a scoring run to pad their lead.
The scoring runs got fewer and further between for Colusa in the second half, but it wasn’t until there were just 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter that Mt. Shasta took their first lead of the game – albeit a short-lived one – and the two squads entered the final quarter tied at 45-45. After three lead changes to open the fourth quarter, Mt. Shasta pulled ahead for good and didn’t miss a free-throw down the stretch to walk away with a 66-56 victory and a Northern Section championship.
Star guard Cole Riccomini’s double-double led the way for the Bears: He ended up with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. His brother, Kaden Riccomini (14 points) and big-man Kody Bauman (17 points) were the only other players to score in double digits for Mt. Shasta.
Conner Saso’s 19 points was a team-high for the RedHawks, followed by Gerry Moreno’s 14. Moreno also chipped in eight rebounds, and Blake Steidlmayer dished out a game-high 11 assists, but their efforts weren’t enough to push Colusa past Mt. Shasta.
Colusa struggles from the free-throw line ultimately proved to be the difference. As a team, the Bears were 13-for-16 from the free-throw line – a stark contrast to Colusa, which shot just 4-for-14.
The loss snapped a 13-game winning streak for Colusa, which included a perfect run through their Sacramento Valley League schedule. Despite the loss in the Section Championship, the RedHawks (24-5) have at least one game left to play this season: They face off with Colfax on the road in the opening round of the CIF State Tournament tonight at 7:30 PM. ■