Impressive start lifts Corsairs to No. 14 in the state

College of the Redwoods Athletics – Niko Zambas in action for the Corsairs against Marin on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — A 10-1 start to a season apparently earns you some respect.

This week, the College of the Redwoods men’s basketball has moved up to No. 14 in the state in the latest coaches poll. 

The big move comes after the program’s most impressive start to a season ever, which saw the Corsairs win seven straight out of the starting gates.

After losing to Los Medanos at the Mendocino tournament two weeks ago, the CR men have since responded with three straight wins and some stellar defense.

“Another stout defensive performance, particularly in the first half,” head coach Ryan Bisio said after Saturday’s 76-60 win over Marin. “We went on a run of getting stops and that fueled our energy.”

The CR men allowed just 20 points in the opening half.

The fast start to the season is particularly impressive  considering Bisio has had to replace four starters from last year’s conference championship winning team.

Having all-state star Jon Nchekwube back has been key, and the sophomore center continues to play at a very high level and set the tone for his mostly freshmen teammates.

Nchekwube is averaging an identical 18.6 points and 18.6 rebounds a game through the opening 11 games and shooting 58.1 percent.

Freshmen Trey Neff, Kai Purcell and Jett Cheong each also have started all 11 games and played key roles for the team.

Neff is averaging 20.3 points a game, while Purcell is averaging 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game and has quickly adapted to the collegiate game after an impressive career at Arcata High.

Cheong leads the team with 4.8 assists a game and is averaging 12.8 points, while Trey’s twin brother Tyson also is having a big impact and is averaging 10.4 points a game.

The CR men will host the Coach Treggs Classic this week, with the action getting under way on Thursday.

The Corsairs open against Sierra at 7 p.m. and also are scheduled to play Mendocino on Friday at 7 p.m.

Fullerton is No. 1 in the coaches poll, followed by San Francisco City.

Click here for the full California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association poll.

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