Second-half rally lifts CR men to season-opening win

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Brandon Johnson gave the Corsairs a lift off the bench during the first half of Tuesday’s game..

By Ray Hamill — Donald Willis scored a game-high 25 points as the College of the Redwoods men’s basketball team got the new season off to a winning start on Tuesday night, defeating Mendocino 85-73 at CR.

The visiting Eagles closed out the first half the stronger of the two teams and took a six-point lead into halftime, but the home team battled back and outscored them 57-39 in the second half.

“We had to scratch one out,” CR head coach Ryan Bisio said.

Willis found his groove early in the season and finished with four 3-pointers, while center Jon Nchekwube made his presence felt in his first game with the team.

“I thought we did a much better job of handling their pressure in the second half,” Bisio said. “And we also benefitted from Jon Nchekwube really establishing himself in the paint.”

Nchekwube finished with 19 points in the win, while Bradley Willis chipped in 12 and Zac Claus 11.

Surprisingly for a team that scored 85 points, the CR men managed just five 3-pointers all night.

“It’s pretty unusual for us to score that many points and only have five 3s, but I was really proud of the guys for scratching out a really good win against a really good team,” Bisio said.

Former Arcata Tiger Mason Railsback also enjoyed a strong debut with the team, particularly in the second half, and finished with seven points.

The game was the first basketball contest at CR since the historic playoff doubleheader back in February 2020, and Bisio said it felt good to have fans back in the stands.

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