Bears win big to reach Friday's section championship game

Steve Gerace
The Mount Shasta Bears celebrate their 85-62 Division 5 semifinal win over Weed Wednesday night in Mount Shasta.

A barrage of baskets by the home team sucked the drama out of Wednesday night’s semifinal game early, and the Mount Shasta Bears sprinted into the section championships with an 85-62 win over their rivals from Weed.

There was nowhere to sit in Robert E. Novo Gymnasium and all the standing areas were packed as the postseason’s No. 2 and 3 seeds met for their biggest of big games.

The Bears scored 27 points in the first quarter and didn’t cool off until their lead had swelled to 30-plus points and both team’s reserves took the floor midway through the final period.

Eight first half three-point baskets and plenty of other shots that fell from far and near propelled the Bears to a 46-33 half time lead.

Mount Shasta scored more points in the first half than they did in four quarters of a 45-42 loss at Weed just 12 days earlier.

Then the Bears were at their most dominating during a 25-6 third-quarter streak.

Junior John Clemens scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. He finished with a scoring line that included 5 field goals, 3 three-pointers and 5 of 6 on free throw attempts.

Clemens, who scored just 3 points when the Bears lost their only league game of the season to the Cougars Feb. 21., said, “We shot 20 percent in that game. We were ready to come out tonight and make a statement that we want to play for the section.”

Mount Shasta senior Daylon Blakely scored 7 points in both the first and third quarters, including a pair of threes to finish with 16.

The Bears made 5 of their 12 three-point baskets in the second quarter, 2 each by Clemens and senior Brandon Acord and 1 by senior Clay Ferguson.

Junior Cesar Gonzalez hit 2 threes in the first quarter, including one at the buzzer. He added 4 field goals in rapid succession in the third quarter to finish with 14 points.

The first basket of the third quarter was a three by Acord, who added a pair of free throws in the final period for 9 points.

Ferguson scored all 9 of his points in the first half and was a force on the boards as usual.

Junior Sean Micklos came off the bench to score 7 points in the second half.

The Cougars went toe to toe with the Bears until it was 13-13, but trailed by 10 at the end of the first quarter.

Weed’s three top scorers, seniors Trevor Shaffer and Edgar Casorla and junior Jordan DeBortoli, combined for 25 points in the first half and just 2 in the third quarter.

“We tightened up our defense on Edgar, DeBortoli and Shaffer in the third quarter,” said Mount Shasta coach Cliff Blakely.

Shaffer finished with 18, Casorla and DeBortoli 15 each.

Weed’s fine season ends with a second place finish in league, two playoff victories and a 22-5 record.

Mount Shasta will take its 24-2 record into Friday’s NSCIF Division 5 championship game against top seed Liberty Christian, which improved to 24-4 overall with a 75-35 semifinal win over No. 4 Durham. Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. at Shasta College in Redding.

Coach Blakely said he started talking to the members of this year’s Bears team three years ago about going to section this year. “Everybody thought I was nuts then,” he said.

That’s exactly where they’re going now, and “Our goal is to win section,” said Gonzalez. “We feel confident that if we play our game, we’ll have a good chance.”