Semifinal loss ends Mount Shasta season

Steve Gerace
Mount Shasta senior John Clemens and his teammates leave the court as Trinity fans celebrate in the background after Wednesday night's Division 5 semifinal playoff game in Mount Shasta. The Bears fell behind early, cut a 20-point deficit to 10 with 4:20 to play, but fell short, 62-53. Trinity moves on to play Hamilton in Friday night's section championship game. The Bears, who won a second consecutive league championship in 2015, finish 21-7 overall.

Too many shots that hit the inside the rim and came out. Too many passes into the wrong hands. Too few rebounds. Too little scoring from anyone other than John Clemens. Too much of Trinity’s Zachary Sanchez.

The top-seeded Mount Shasta Bears’ season ended in a jam-packed Robert E. Novo Gymnasium with a 62-53 loss to Trinity in Wednesday night’s Northern Section Division 5 playoff semifinal.

Trinity, which finished a game behind the Bears at the top of the Shasta Cascade League standings and was seeded No. 4, moves on to play No. 2 Hamilton in Friday night’s section championship game.

The Bears finish 21-7 overall. They only lost two games in the last two months of the season, both to Trinity. They only lost two home games all the season, one at the very start and one at the very end.

Trinity did not have Sanchez when they split two league games against the Bears. He won a court case to gain eligibility and has averaged just under 21 points per game while helping the Wolves win their last seven in a row.

A 6-foot-2, 187 pound senior point guard/forward, he scored 23 points in Wednesday’s semifinal while making 10 of 12 free throw shots, including 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter as the Bears tried to rally from a 20-point deficit.

Mount Shasta senior John Clemens also scored 23, but the Bears had nobody else who came close to the season-high 20 points scored by Trinity senior Jaron Hurlburt.

The Bears' other two top scorers this season, senior Cesar Gonzalez and junior Preston Blakely, combined for 17 points.

Gonzalez, a three-year varsity starter, scored 7 of his 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Bears brought their fans to life with an 11-1 run that trimmed the deficit to 53-43 with 4:20 to play.

The Bears had chances to get closer when two Trinity players went 0 for 7 on fourth-quarter free throw attempts. But passes went awry, and shots missed their mark.

It was not good news for the Bears when they put Sanchez or Hurlburt on the line. They combined to make 10 of 12 free throw shots in the fourth quarter.

The Bears made just 5 of 12 from the free throw line in the first half, but were 8 for 10 in the second half, including 5 of 6 by Clemens.

Mount Shasta’s shooting woes started early, and Trinity’s lead was 19-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Gonzalez’s first basket of the game, a 3-pointer just before the half time buzzer, cut the Wolves’ lead to 28-20.

A promising second half start had the Bears within 4 at 28-24, but just about anything that could go wrong did after that. The result was a 21-6 Trinity run that put the Bears in a 49-30 hole going into the final period.

Sean Micklos and Kirby Kindley finished with 4 points each, Garrett Bryan 3, and Mason Brooks 2.

This was the third year in a row under coach Cliff Blakely that the Bears have gotten at least as far as the Division 5 semifinals. Their cumulative record those three seasons is 66-18.

They also lost in the semifinals two years ago, when both Gonzalez and Clemens were key contributors as sophomores, and they lost in the section championship game last year.