Fully healthy CR men get ready to tip off the GVC, finally

Rasy Hamill/ – Bradley Willis in action for CR earlier this season.

By Ray Hamill — After a two-week break in action, the College of the Redwoods men’s basketball team will finally tip off conference play at Butte College on Thursday night.

And they know they could be in for a very uncertain campaign as they look to defend the championship they won two years ago.

“I think you’re going to see some bizarre results,” CR head coach Ryan Bisio said of this year’s Golden Valley Conference. “You don’t know who’s going to be playing for each team every night.”

The good news for the Corsairs is they have a full roster available for their opener, which could very well be their most challenging matchup of the GVC at a venue where they have traditionally struggled.

The Roadrunners are 8-10 and have dropped four straight games, including their GVC opener against Shasta on Saturday, but Bisio isn’t taking them lightly.

“Butte is a lot better than their record would indicate,” said the coach, who described the Roadrunners as a “lethal threat.” “Historically this is a very, very difficult place to be victorious.”

Bisio, however, is also confident his team is building momentum at the right time and will be ready to go.

While many other JC teams have had limited numbers at practice recently, the Corsairs have had a full complement available for the past couple of weeks, including the return of Drew Gillette and Donald Willis, each of whom missed the team’s last game at Las Positas because of injury.

“We’ve been working and everything’s going really good,” the coach said. “This last week of practice was just incredible. The energy has been great and the focus has been great.

“We’ve been practicing the whole time trying to stay sharp.”

Drew Gillette

The Corsairs, who saw last week’s scheduled conference opener at home to Feather River postponed because of COVID protocols with the Golden Eagles, remain No. 25 in the state and are the only GVC team ranked in the top-30.

Butte, however, recently played No. 1 San Francisco very close in an 81-77 loss, while Shasta College almost knocked off No. 2 Columbia, suggesting this year’s GVC could be very tough.

“We’ve got teams in league right now that are playing at a really high level,” Bisio said. “So we’re on high alert.”

The men’s game, which tips off at 7 p.m., will be played as part of a doubleheader with the CR and Butte women, who play at 5 p.m.

No spectators will be allowed at the games because of COVID protocols.

The Corsairs (10-4) will also play at Siskiyous on Saturday (3 p.m.), before returning home to host Lassen next Wednesday (7 p.m.)

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