Weed Cougars open playoffs at home Tuesday night

Dave Sjostedt
Weed High School seniors were honored with family members before Friday night's regular season finale, a 68-49 win over Modoc. Left to right are Colton Bertolucci, in red, who was injured and unable to play, Jason Ross, Austin Robbins and Harley Williams.

Weed’s seniors came through in their final regular season game Friday night on their home court. Harley Williams, Austin Robbins and Jason Ross combined for 27 points and junior sharpshooter Xavia Martinez hit 5 three-pointers on his way to a team-high 17 points in a 68-49 win over Modoc.

The Cougars take a two-game winning streak and 12-10 overall record into their Northern Section Division 6 playoff opener tonight at 7 p.m. in Weed. Seeded No. 5, Weed hosts No. 12 Burney, with the winner advancing to play in the quarterfinals at No. 4 Loyalton Thursday night.

Cougar seniors Harley Williams, Jason Ross, Austin Robbins and Colton Bertolucci, who was injured and unable to play, were honored with family members before the start of Friday night’s game against Modoc.

The first half was a low-scoring affair with Modoc holding on to a 23-22 lead and the Cougars having a tough time with Modoc’s “twin towers” of 6’7” Anthony Peppars and 6’5” Michael Rush.

Weed coach Robert West remembered the early season loss to Modoc when “Their big men posted up and killed us.” Knowing he’d need to find a way to deny those big men the ball, West called up four underclassmen from the JV team to bolster his defense.

The Cougars began the second half with a withering full-court press and went on a 19-0 run leading to a 34-11 third quarter margin that put the game away and had the crowd on its feet. While the defense held Modoc in check, the offense went on a three-point spree.

Martinez hit on 5 of his team-high “rainbow” three point shots, Williams added 3 and sophomore Angel Nicholas and junior Danny Formhals 2 each as the Cougars hit 10 three-pointers in the game.

Robbins showed some true grit. He left the floor after a first quarter collision holding a towel to his face and his return appeared questionable, but he came back to score 10 points and grab some big rebounds against Modoc’s formidable front court.

Xavia Martinez tallied 17 for the Cougars, Nicholas 12, Williams 11, Robbins 10, Ross 6 and Formhals 6.

Weed also defeated Etna last Wednesday night at home, 68-55. The Cougars made 11 three point shots in that game, 5 each by Martinez and Formhals and 1 by sophomore Alex Guzman.

Martinez scored 21 points, Formhals 18, Nicholas 11, Williams 9, Robbins 6, and Guzman 3. Williams led Weed with 10 rebounds, while Robbins and Martinez had 7 each, Nicholas 6, and Formhals 5.

Nicholas had 5 steals, Robbins 3, and Ross 2.

The Cougars expanded roster includes junior Jesse Nichelson, sophomores Donoven LaFortune, Tripp Rodriguez, and Alex Guzman and freshman Jarrod Keen.

Weed finished in a fourth place tie with Fall River in the Shasta Cascade League with a 3-7 record. Fall River (18-7) is seeded No. 2 in Division 6 and has a first round bye. The Bulldogs will host either No. 7 Big Valley or No. 10 Etna (2-8 SCL, 8-15) Thursday night.

Weed defeated Burney twice in the preseason, 72-54 and 85-45, defeated Etna twice in the SCL, and lost two close ones to Fall River in league, 62-56 and 57-55.