By Ray Hamill — The Corsairs assured themselves of at least a share of their first conference title in men’s basketball in a decade on Saturday afternoon, but they’re not satisfied yet.
Playing in front of another packed home crowd, the College of the Redwoods men overcame a sluggish first half to pull away late on the way to beating Feather River 94-78.
The win lifts the Corsairs to 7-2 in The Golden Valley Conference, one win ahead of Shasta, which travels to CR on Wednesday night.
But CR head coach Ryan Bisio insisted afterwards that his players want more.
“It’s an historic feat for this group of really special individuals,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re interested in sharing it. Come Wednesday we’re going to be ready to defend our home floor.”
The CR gym should be rocking, with the women’s team also in contention for a GVC title heading into the final night of action.
A win at home to Shasta would guarantee the CR women at least a co-championship.
The men’s title is the fifth in the program’s 54-year history and its first since 2010 when the Corsairs were co-champions.
The last time they were outright champs was in 2007.
According to the school, the Corsairs have never won both the men’s and women’s title in the same year, with the CR women’s only championship coming back in 1980 under Dave Banducci.
Saturday’s game was a sluggish affair for the CR men, who didn’t really get going until well into the second half, although it was also a game they never really looked in danger of losing.
Thomas Nelson was outstanding once again, finishing with a team-high 32 points, as was Drew Gillette, who had 29.
“Even though he missed some early shots, he had that look in his eye,” Bisio said of Gillette. “You knew it was only a matter of time.”
Gillette scored 19 of his tally in the second half, as the home team pulled away in the final five minutes.
Zac Claus also was instrumental in the win.
“Late in the game, Zac Claus was incredible,” Bisio said. “I’m so proud of him and the growth he showed today.”
Despite the sluggish performance, the CR men found a way to win a game they had to win.
“I think collectively we found the sense of urgency we needed in the second half,” the head coach said. “Particularly when we went to our zone.”
Donald Willis chipped in nine points and his brother Bradley had seven, while Claus and Isaac Puzz each finished with six points, Blake Rossman four and Anthony Stubbs three.
The win lifts CR to 20-5 overall.
Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m., with the women’s matchup following at 7.