Gym will be rockin' Tuesday when Mount Shasta plays at Weed
The words "Mount Shasta vs. Weed" stir emotions in this neck of the northern California woods.
Doesn't matter what sport it is, what the records are, what's at stake or how many players on the teams are friends who play together during the summer. Mount Shasta vs. Weed is a high school sports rivalry that goes back so far it's in folks' blood.
Especially in high school basketball lately, Mount Shasta vs. Weed has often determined who gets what part of that year's league championship.
Good chance it's going to be that way this year, too.
Going into Tuesday night's meeting between the Bears and Cougars in Weed, the Mount Shasta and Weed varsity girls teams are tied for first place in the Shasta Cascade League at 4-0.
The Weed boys are 4-0 too, tied for first place with Modoc and a game ahead of 3-1 Mount Shasta, which lost by 2 points to Modoc last Tuesday on the Bears' home court.
Weed varsity girls head coach Bob West said his team "is focused on doing it one game at a time, and the next opponent in Mount Shasta... of course it's a rivalry game; the crowd will be pumped up; it will be rockin' and rollin'. That's fun for the kids."
West said last year's two narrow losses to the Bears aren't an issue for his team. "We both play a little different this year," said West. "We both have a goal of winning the league, and we're both in each other's way. We'll step on the court and decide it; that's the beauty of competition."
A year ago, Mount Shasta's girls won the SCL title with a 9-1 record that included a 37-35 overtime win against Weed at home. Then, with the Cougars in position to claim a share of the 2012 title, the league season ended with a 32-31 Bears' win in Weed in a game decided when then-sophomore Kathryn Andrus made two free throws with no time on the clock.
At the JV boys level last year, Weed went 23-2 overall but missed a chance at a second consecutive SCL championship when they lost the final game of the season at home to Mount Shasta, 45-42. The Bears placed first at 9-1 in league; Weed was 8-2.
It goes on and on like that. Two years ago, Weed won the 2011 SCL varsity boys championship with a 9-1 record and Mount Shasta finished second at 8-2.
A year before that, Weed led the league at 9-2 and Mount Shasta was 8-3 before the Bears won the SCL finale in overtime in Weed, 55-52, and they shared first place.
This year's Weed and Mount Shasta girls both won twice last week to up the ante for this year's first meeting between the two.
Weed won Tuesday of last week at Etna, 48-42, as sophomore point guard Elyssa Fisher led the way with 18 points, and Karene Marshall scored 14.
Against an Etna team that he described as "athletic and good," Destinee Jones scored 8 points and grabbed 15 or 16 rebounds despite playing against taller opponents in the post.
After a 50-30 non-league win over Mercy last Wednesday night in Weed, the Lady Cougars stopped Burney Saturday in Burney, 32-20.
Weed finished the week 4-0 in league and 12-6 overall, while Mount Shasta is 4-0 and 9-7 after defeating Modoc Tuesday of last week in Mount Shasta, 38-26, then winning at Burney Friday night, 49-27.
Sejay Sarti led the Bears with two 3-pointers and 15 points against Modoc; Kathryn Andrus scored 8 points with 12 rebounds; and Tori Hansen made a 3-point shot to finish with 5 points and 9 rebounds.
Coach Kirk Andrus said the Bears struggled to find their rhythm against Modoc (2-2, 8-6), the only SCL team they lost to last year, and that was on their own court.
He said he reminded his players of that loss often in the days leading up to last week's game, and he reminded them that Modoc has basically the same team this year. "They defend different; it's hard to get a rhythm," he said.
With the Bears leading by a scarce 14-12 margin after two quarters, Andrus said he had little to say at half time and instead sent his players out early to shoot.
They responded with a 15-5 run in the third quarter.
"We had to grind it out," said Andrus.
There was no grinding required at Burney (1-8, 0-4), as the Lady Bears led 18-2 after one quarter and 33-6 at half time.
The Lady Cougars got off to a slow start in their makeup game against Mercy, and the first quarter ended 6-6.
Weed held a 26-15 advantage at half time, then outscored Mercy 16-9 in the third quarter on the way to a 50-30 win.
Marshall scored 16, Destinee Jones 12, Elyssa Fisher 6, McKenna Crabill 6, Lauren Gubetta 4, Tia Palangvanh 4, and Sierra Huckabay 2.
The Cougars had their worst shooting night of the season, but played good defense Saturday in Burney, West said.
They made just 4 of 19 free throws and an estimated 12 to 14 percent of their field goal tries.
"The good news," West said, "is we're finding ways to win."
He said the key for the Cougars is to make opposing teams "earn every basket. If we can hold them to 30, 35 points, we can win."
While the Weed boys had little trouble winning a pair of games last week without two of their top six players in the lineup, they expect to have leading scorer Noah Traylor back for Tuesday's game against the Bears.
Traylor suffered an ankle injury a couple minutes into the Cougars' 64-36 win at Etna Tuesday of last week. By Monday of this week, he was back in the gym.
Weed finished the week with a 16-2 overall record after a 51-17 non-league win over Mercy last Wednesday in Weed, and a 77-57 win at Burney Saturday.
Mount Shasta was 13-4 overall after a 45-43 home loss to Modoc and a 65-29 win at Burney Friday night.
This is a doubly important week for the Bears, who follow Tuesday's game at Weed with their second SCL game against Modoc (13-3) Friday night in Alturas.
Bears head coach Cliff Blakely said he saw two evenly matched teams when Mount Shasta lost to Modoc last week.
"Their post players hurt us, and we couldn't hit shots," Blakely said.
One of the Braves' post players is senior Cameron Anderson, who led all scorers in the game with 20 points. Anderson, who missed much of the pre-league season, makes a difference.
Looking ahead to the game at Weed, Blakely said, "I think it will come down to who plays the best defense. We think we play good defense, and they think they play good defense. It should be a good game."
Carpine said he was proud of the way his Cougar team played last week, especially Saturday in Burney.
"We've had injury and disciplinary issues, but this group was prepared and executed. Kids are stepping up. They were relentless."
Between the two of them, juniors Trevor Shaffer and Edgar Casorla scored 50 of Weed's 77 points at Burney. Shaffer hit two 3-pointers and finished with 26 points. Casorla hit four 3's and scored 24.
Junior Aidan Hagarty scored 11 points with 14 rebounds; Josh Rodgers and Jamie Haosouphanthong scored 6 each; Matthew Morgan 2, and Spencer Hall 2.
Carpine said Rodgers "does a lot of good things you don't always see in the scorebook," and Hall "played great defense against Burney's leading scorer."
As for his team's 16-2 record, Carpine said, "It can quickly turn around."