Redwoods men drop tourney opener against West Hills

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A long trip didn’t appear to slow down the West Hills-Coalinga men’s basketball team on the opening day at the Coach Tregs Classic at College of the Redwoods on Thursday.

The Falcons traveled almost eight hours for the three-day tourney and handed the Corsairs just their second loss of the season, 73-70.

The visitors settled into the game and outscored the host team 46-39 in the second half on the way to overcoming a four-point halftime deficit.

“West Hills deserves the headline tonight,” CR head coach Ryan Bisio said after the game. “Driving all the way from Coalinga the same day and making huge play after huge play down the stretch to close us out. Hats off to them for their perseverance and focus.”

Drew Gillette led the Corsairs offensively with 20 points, while Jon Nchekwube added 17 and OcTavion Williams 10.

Jabari Merritt scored a game-high 21 for West Hills, while teammate Fredery Cuello added 18.

The Corsairs are now 5-2 and will try to respond when they play Sierra on Saturday at 3 p.m.

“We have a great opportunity to reflect on tonight, discuss it and adjust our course,” Bisio added. “We’re still finding our identity. We’re vulnerable, but that’s also the most fertile ground for growth. I’m excited to see how we respond.”

The three-day tournament continues on Friday with three games involving out-of-area teams at 3, 5 and 7.

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