The 2018 Weed High School boys basketball team is one win away from going where no Cougar boys team has been for 29 years.
Weed reached the semifinal round of the Northern Section Division 6 playoffs with a 71-54 win Friday night at Loyalton.
The No. 5 seeded Cougars (14-10 overall) are scheduled to play No. 1 Redding Christian (25-2) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Palo Cedro.
The winner will play for the section championship against either No. 2 Fall River or No. 3 Los Molinos Saturday evening at Shasta College in Redding.
Weed’s boys haven’t reached a section basketball championship game since they won the title in 1989. The head coach of that Cougars’ team was current coach Robert West’s grandfather, Mike Carpine.
“We’re starting to peak at the right time,” Robert West said after his team’s two playoff wins last week. Weed opened with a 55-46 victory over Burney Feb. 20 in Weed.
West believes playing in a tough Shasta Cascade League against Division 5 teams like Mount Shasta and Trinity helped prepare the Cougars for what they’ll face at Redding Christian. Mount Shasta and Trinity are scheduled to play in a Division 5 semifinal Wednesday night in Mount Shasta.
Weed made the four-hour trip to Loyalton Friday, then had time to relax at their hotel before the game, thanks to athletic director Steve Neel’s efforts to get them an early check-in time, West said.
The Cougars jumped out to a 10-2 lead but held a slim 19-17 margin at the end of the first quarter.
An 11-0 Weed run in the first two minutes of the second quarter included 3 three-pointers and a steal for a lay-in. Loyalton never got closer than 10 points after that.
West said Loyalton, which went 6-0 to win the Pioneer-Mountain League championship, had some good young players but couldn’t match up with the Cougars’ athletic ability.
He said Weed’s success included feeding the ball into Harley Williams, who passed to the wings for open shots. Once those shots started falling, West said the Cougars made “layup after layup.”
On defense, “Our press was really consistent,” West said. “We kept our uptempo pace, like we like it.”
Xavia Martinez made 5 three-pointers and scored 24 points for Weed. Martinez broke the school record for three-point baskets in a season during the Cougars’ playoff win over Burney.
Williams scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds; Austin Robbins scored 9 points and had 14 rebounds, 9 of them on the offensive boards.
Angel Nicholas scored 12 points, and Danny Formhals 11.
Jason Ross, who was injured in the Burney game, played sparingly at Loyalton, but looked good, according to West.
Redding Christian went 7-1 to win the Five Star League, a game ahead of Los Molinos, a team the Cougars defeated in early January, 74-44.