Second in section, Bears open state playoffs in San Francisco

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Mount Shasta senior Daylon Blakely made back-to-back three-point shots in the first half of Friday's Division 5 championship game in Redding. He finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds, and received Mount Shasta's Sportsmanship award. Blakely is also the 2014 Shasta Cascade League MVP.

A second place finish in the section wasn’t what the Mount Shasta Bears had in mind. But even though they lost Friday’s championship game in Redding to Liberty Christian, 58-42, the Bears are scheduled to face a lower seed in their first state playoff game than the Patriots. And both have to go on the road.

Mount Shasta will take its 24-3 overall record to San Francisco Wednesday night to face No. 6 seed Stuart Hall at 6 p.m. at Lowell High School.

Liberty (25-4) is seeded No. 5, and gets a first round bye before opening on the road against No. 4 Branson of Ross Saturday.

Mount Shasta coach Cliff Blakely said his three-year plan to win a section championship this year included a quest to host a state playoff game. Used to be that section champions were guaranteed a first round home game, but things have change.

The Northern Section’s Division 5 champion did not change this year.

Mount Shasta’s plan to slow the game down worked for much of the first half Friday against heavily favored defending champion Liberty Christian.

Heavily favored and, as Blakely said later, “bigger and heavier everywhere.”

“We hustled and played pretty good defense,” Blakely said. “We didn’t shoot great.”

Playing a team that has averaged 75 points per game, the Bears led 6-4 after one quarter and held a 14-13 lead following a pair of three-point baskets by senior Daylon Blakely in the second quarter.

Fans from Mount Shasta and Weed roared for the Bears in unison, as they did for the Weed girls in the previous game, won by Durham, 53-49.

Liberty led 15-14 with less than a minute to play in the half, then scored 4 points to lead by 5 at the intermission.

It got worse in a hurry for the Bears at the start of the second half. Before they scored a point, the Redding private school with players from a few countries had an 11-point lead that eventually grew to 52-31.

The Bears had their hands full with 6-foot-5 Liberty center/offensive lineman Oliver Herting, who missed many of his shots but often got more than one chance at it. Mount Shasta’s 6-1 senior Clay Ferguson made Herting work for it, but the bigger guy eventually scored 14 second-half points and led all scorers with 19.

Coach Blakely praised junior John Clemens for his defensive work against high scoring Liberty point guard Joseph Lynch, a 5-11 senior. Lynch had just 3 points at the half and finished with 13.

Six-foot-eight sophomore Odera Nwobi wasn’t a big factor for the Patriots, but 5-11 sophomore guard Leo Poncia hurt the Bears with 4 three-point baskets and 14 points.

Junior Cesar Gonzalez, the Bears’ 5-7 point guard, made some moves on Poncia to score 14 points, 9 of them in the fourth quarter. Gonzalez also had 4 assists.

Daylon Blakely scored 11 points, led the Bears with 6 rebounds, and received the Sportsmanship award that was given to one player on each team.

Clemens scored 8 points, senior guard Brandon Acord 5, and sophomore Preston Blakely 4. Ferguson had 5 rebounds.

Five teams in the 11-team North bracket of the state playoffs received first round byes. Three other games, including the Bears at Stuart Hall, will determine which teams fill out the North’s final eight.