Mount Shasta and Weed take rivalry to a new level

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
The Bears and Cougars split the two Shasta Cascade League games they played against each other this season, each winning on their home court. They play each other Wednesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. in Mount Shasta for a spot in the section championship game.

They’ve played many thrilling league games against each other in recent years, but tonight’s playoff semifinal between the Mount Shasta and Weed boys basketball teams takes their rivalry to a new level.

It’s the No. 2 Bears, 23-2 overall and winners of the 2014 Shasta Cascade League championship, against the

No. 3 Cougars, 22-5 overall and the only Northern Section team to defeat Mount Shasta this season, on the final day of the league season.

Only tonight’s winner will continue on to play for the Northern Section Division 5 championship Friday at 4:15 p.m. at Shasta College in Redding. Note: The date for the championship game was incorrectly reported in Mt. Shasta Shasta Area Newspapers.

In many ways tonight’s game has been brewing all season and for several seasons before this.

The Bears and Cougars have been at or near the top of the Division 5 standings all season. Mount Shasta finished first on the playoff points list, Weed finished second. Both were bypassed by defending section champion Liberty Christian when the playoff seedings were set.

Both won two playoff games last week; both had to defeat SCL teams in Friday night’s quarterfinals. Both won those games by wide margins against teams that had given them problems earlier in the season.

Mount Shasta defeated No. 10 Trinity, 66-42. The last time the Bears faced the Wolves, Feb. 7 in Weaverville, they needed a 25-14 run in the fourth quarter to claim a 75-63 victory. In Friday’s quarterfinal, the Bears went on a 16-5 scoring streak in the third quarter to take a commanding 48-29 lead.

Weed had to play No. 6 Modoc Friday night for the fifth time this season and 10th time in the past two seasons. The Cougars’ 86-57 quarterfinal win equaled their highest point total of the season and stretched their winning streak to eight straight. Weed went 4-1 against Modoc this year after going 1-4 last year, including a four-point loss in the section semifinals.

Mount Shasta lost to Liberty in last year’s semifinals, and Liberty went on to top Modoc in the championship game.

These Bears and Cougars know each other well and know how to win.

Including one JV and two varsity seasons, Mount Shasta’s seniors and juniors have a 61-12 record the past three seasons, while Weed is 68-13.

Weed finished second to the Bears in the SCL this year, and they each beat the other at home during the league season.

Last year the Bears and Cougars tied for second place in league behind Modoc.

Two years ago the Bears won the JV league championship by knocking off the Cougars in the final game of the season. The 45-42 final score that day was the same as the score when Weed beat the Bears Feb. 21 in Weed.

“We’re not going to change much, just hope to shoot better,” Mount Shasta coach Cliff Blakely said when considering that loss, which was the Bears’ first since they fell to the Australians at their own Holiday Tournament Dec. 13.

Blakely and Weed coach Mike Carpine agree that tonight’s two-three seed matchup “is the way it’s supposed to be.”

Carpine, who won his 500th game as a coach earlier this season, said he doesn’t remember the Bears and Cougars ever playing a more significant game against each other. He pointed out that the Cougars’ win over the Bears didn’t mean anything in the league standings and probably didn’t change anything in the playoff seedings.

“I respect them,” he said of the Bears. “Cliff has done a wonderful job; they’re such a good team. We have to hit our shots and play good defense.”

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Mount Shasta High School for the Northern Section Division 5 semifinal game between the Bears and Weed Cougars.

The game begins at 7 p.m. Admission for adults is $8; senior citizens, students with ASB cards, and K-8 students are $5; children under 5 are free.

Seating will be available in the bleachers and on the stage. No persons will be allowed to stand on the baselines to assure referees’ and players;’ safety.

Food is only allowed on the stage. No food is allowed in the gym.