While most of Colusa’s 16 straight wins this season have come in relatively comfortable fashion, last week’s games were distinctly different.
Although the RedHawks’ defeated Sacramento Valley League foes Pierce and Durham, both contests came down to the wire. Hosting Pierce on Jan. 17, the RedHawks emerged with the 59-50 victory in an intensely physical battle that by the end saw a combined 43 fouls committed.
With both teams pushing the ball, the pace was fast, but in the first period neither squad made much headway as it ended with Colusa holding a narrow 10-8 lead.
Nonetheless, the RedHawks were able to gain some separation in the second quarter, taking an eight-point advantage into the locker room at halftime as the Bears struggled to convert their shot opportunities.
In the third quarter, Pierce cut the deficit to four points after Tony Maldonado drained a three with 1:30 remaining, but Colusa was able to forge ahead and closed out the period with an Isaiah Travis bucket off an assist from Seth Kalisuch that made the score 42-34.
Still, the Bears were not going to concede anything and drew within three points half way through the final quarter after a Joey Saavedra basket-and-one.
Once again though, the RedHawks responded, this time with a three-point play from Landon Humphrey, which was followed by a long three from Kalisuch.
Not to be outdone, Pierce answered, hitting a three of its own and then scoring on a Maldonado steal and layup.
Yet, Colusa pressed on, getting another inside basket from Travis, thanks to an assist from Leo Bedolla, which gave the RedHawks an eight-point cushion with under a minute to play and broke the Bears’ momentum.
Humphrey finished with a game-high 22 points, Kalisuch logged 13, while Bedolla and Travis had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
For the Bears, who are to be commended for their performance, Drew Burnum tossed in a team high 16 points, Saavedra added 12 points, and Maldonado, who hit some big shots in the contest, ended the night with 10 points.
Fresh off its hard-fought win over Pierce, the RedHawks hit the road to face Durham and found themselves in another dogfight.
But after emerging with a 46-43 victory over the Trojans, Colusa gained sole possession of first place in the SVL.
In spite of the adversity, RedHawk coach Brian Davis thinks these past two contests were just what his team needed with the playoffs looming on the horizon.
“I told the squad that these types of hard-fought games right now will benefit us in the long term as we are learning how to close out tight games,” Davis said.
Travis shot 58 percent from the floor to record his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Humphrey, sixth in the section in scoring, netted 13 points in the victory over Durham.
For his effort, Travis drew praise from Davis who said, “I love how Isaiah is bringing the blue collar attitude and is learning how to be a force in the paint.”
Colusa (16-4, 6-0) was in Winters on Monday, Live Oak on Wednesday, and will return home to square off against Paradise on Friday.
Meanwhile, Pierce (6-13, 3-4) suffered its fifth loss of the season by less than five points in Live Oak last Friday, when the Bears fell 54-56 to the Lions.
Statistics from the contest were not provided by the Bears, who welcomed Paradise to town on Monday, journeyed to East Nicolaus on Wednesday, and will be in Willows on Friday.■