Weed’s boys basketball team got their mojo back with a 70-59 playoff win Monday night over a Fall River team that beat them twice in Shasta Cascade League play.
The victory send the Cougars into a Northern Section Division 6 semifinal Wednesday night, Feb. 20, at undefeated and top-seeded Redding Christian (29-0).
It looked like more of the same for Weed when Fall River raced out to a 7-0 lead and was ahead 20-13 after the first quarter Monday in McArthur. But the Cougars chipped away at the Bulldog lead and trailed 38-34 at the half.
Coach Robert West credited guard Angel Nicholas with spearheading the Cougar second half comeback during which they outscored Fall River 36-21.
Weed was down by 2 points when Nicholas hit a three-pointer and then had a steal that resulted in another three, and the Cougars never trailed again.
West said the team wasn’t getting the ball inside against the Fall River defense in the first two games. “We had a ton of film” on the previous Fall River contests, and the bad weather that delayed the game gave him and the team more time to watch film and practice.
Getting the ball inside worked for the Cougars as center Grant Lane scored 16 points and was 5 for 6 from the free throw line.
The strong inside play opened up the perimeter, and the Cougars took advantage by hitting 5 three-pointers in their third quarter rally.
Xavia Martinez had 23 points and hit 3 treys to lead the Weed scoring. Angel Nicholas scored 11 points and distributed the ball efficiently. Tripp Rodriguez and Danny Formhals each added 7 points.
Weed’s semifinal at Redding Christian was originally scheduled to be played Tuesday night, which would have meant a back-to-back for the Cougars. But it was changed to Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
West has reason to feel confident despite facing a 29-0 team whose leading scorer, Drew Nelson-Crowell, is being recruited by Division I colleges.
Trinity has provided fellow SCL school Weed with film of its encounter with Redding Christian. That game also gives West reason for optimism. Redding Christian eked out a 43-40 win over Trinity, while the Cougars beat the Wolves twice by 77-33 and 86-51 scores.
Redding Christian also had a close, 53-49 win over 3-seed Los Molinos, a team that the Cougars handled easily in a 62-49 win.
West feels he has another advantage over the top seed. “Redding Christian only has 6 players in their rotation,” he said. West has 10 guys he can use to keep up defensive pressure and wear down the Lions’ short rotation.
He also thinks that the Cougar guards have a speed advantage over the Lion backcourt that he can exploit.
A win Wednesday night in Palo Cedro will propel Weed to the Northern Section Division 6 championship game Saturday at Shasta College and a spot in the CIF state Division 6 tourney.