Basketball

CR men march on to California’s Sweet 16

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com

By Ray Hamill — Not bad for a team that not so long ago was considered the worst in the state, and a program that went winless last winter.

Now the Corsairs are off to the Sweet 16 of state play and a date in next week’s NorCal quarterfinals.

On Friday night, the College of the Redwoods men continued what been a sensational season on the basketball court with a 75-56 win over Sacramento City College, playing what will likely be their final home game in front of another packed house.

Next up, the CR men will likely have to travel to play at No 1 seed San Francisco City College next weekend.

The Corsairs had to fight for this one, pulling away late in what was a close game for much of the night.

“I thought Sacramento City came out with a great game plan and I thought they executed it to perfection in the first half,” CR head coach Ryan Bisio said. 

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CR’s Isaac Puzz

There was little to separate the two teams in what was a back-and-forth first half, with no more than five points between them at any stage.

That continued into the second half, but midway the period the home team began to take control, with the Willis twins, Bradley and Donald, particularly instrumental.

“They really provided the spine for us that held us together,” Bisio said of the brothers.

“I thought Bradley Willis changed the game in the second half. The charges, the steals, the finishes, Bradley really turned that game.”

His brother was huge defensively, guarding Sacramento’s chief scoring threat Ryan Reed and holding him without a basket from play.

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“Donald completely took out their best player,” Bisio said.

With the game tied at 48-48 midway through the second half, Drew Gillette nailed a 3-pointer to give the Corsairs a lead they would hold the remainder of the way.

They went on a 12-0 run just moments later to pull ahead by 13 and there was no way back for the visitors after that.

The Corsairs closed out the game with a 24-6 run.

“When you give our guys 40 minutes, that’s enough time for them to find some solutions,” Bisio said. “I thought defensively we clamped down in the second half.”

Thomas Nelson was again instrumental in the win, scoring a game-high 27 points, while Gillette added 19 points, including three 3-pointers.

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Isaac Puzz also had a big game off the bench, scoring 13 points, including three 3-pointers, while Donald Willis finished with nine points and Bradley Willis seven.

Zac Claus was held scoreless but was an influential as ever with his distribution and overall play.

If Friday’s game turns out to be their final home game of the season, it was a fitting sending off for a team that has captivated North Coast fans all winter.

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