A large crowd was fully involved at College of the Siskiyous’ Screamin Eagle Gymnasium as the host team and the Butte Roadrunners took their tussle to the wire Saturday night, Jan. 16.
The hometown fans screamed, screeched and turned the bleachers into a thunder machine in the closing minute and a half as the Eagles rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 76-76 on a tip-in shot by Bronson Damen with 12 seconds to play.
For a team that has only won two games this season, the Eagles’ fan base was in playoff mode.
After Butte made a free throw with 7.8 seconds remaining, the Siskiyous got the ball inside but couldn’t get off a good shot. The ball went out of bounds with 1.5 on the clock, and coach Kyle Heath frantically called out a final play. Again they got the ball inside, but freshman guard Al Alexander was unable to get his shot off before the buzzer sounded.
It was a ragged and rugged affair that saw both teams shoot 34 free throws. Siskiyous made 25 of their attempts; Butte made 21.
Both teams were called for 27 fouls each. Double technicals were called with just over 2 minutes to play when Butte held a 71-62 lead. Though the fouls essentially offset each other, it was the fifth foul of the game for the Butte player involved, and he was done for the night.
Also fouling out for Butte down the stretch was sophomore guard Anthony Carter of Pleasant Valley, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
Siskiyous held a 13 point lead early in the game, but fell behind during a long scoring drought in the second half.
"We're a young team, and we don't know how to put teams away yet," Heath said.
Damen, a 6-foot-4 freshman from Auburn, Wash., buried 3 three-pointers and led the Eagles with 21 points.
Freshman Luke Cassedy from Shasta Lake also made a trio of treys and scored 18.
Freshman Ray Featherston from Washington, DC, added 14 points, including a pair of free throws in the final minute that cut Butte’s lead to 75-74.
Alexander also thrilled the crowd with a lay-in that got the Eagles within 3 points with just under a minute to play.
“I was proud of my kids,”?said Heath, who started the season as the assistant coach then took over the top spot in December. “It was a tough emotional loss, but I?think good things came out of that game.”
Heath noted how the Eagles got together in a tight circle during timeouts and focused on what he was telling them.
“I?think they came together as a team,”?he said.
The coach chided himself for “acting a little crazy” and he questioned some of the foul calls both during and after the game.
He also admitted, “We didn’t lose the game because of the officials... My hat’s off to Butte. They’re a well-coached team and they beat us...”
The loss dropped the Eagles to 0-2 in Golden Valley Conference play and 2-15 overall, while Butte rose to 2-0.
Heath, who had many family members in the stands as part of a birthday celebration Saturday night, said the crowd’s response to the Eagles wasn’t what you would expect for a team with just two wins.
“It was awesome,”?he said. “I?see it as a testament to my guys, that we’re doing it the right way.”
The Eagles were scheduled to play at home Wednesday night, Jan. 20, pending travel conditions. They’re scheduled to play at Shasta in Redding Saturday night.