The Lassen High boys’ basketball team certainly has put the “play” in playoffs thus far.
The Grizzly boys were seeded third after the league declared them threatening enough to automatically pass round I of the playoffs. Thus, their playoff debut was a round II game against the Live Oak Lions on Friday, Feb. 24.
The Lions attempted to take over the court, but they should have known not to stray from the jungle, especially when their journey ends in the cave.
Lassen had the advantage from the first step. With a crown donned in purple and gold to cheer on the home team, fans couldn’t help but notice that Live Oak had also worn Grizzly colors. It was clear that Lassen was the winner from the start.
Chad Arnold, Jacob Bennett and Wyatt Martin each sunk a three-pointer in the first five minutes of the game.
A two-point basket from Wyatt DelCarlo and two good free throws from Arnold brought the Grizzlies to a 13-point score.
Bennett then took his turn behind the free throw line and gained another two Grizzly points as the Live Oak score stayed steady at five points.
DelCarlo was quick to react under pressure as Lions surrounded the Grizzly as he entered the key. With a quick pass from Martin, DelCarlo sunk a basket at 2:28.
The Lions didn’t expect DelCarlo to take control so soon after his basket, but at 1:53, he reminded the Lions to never underestimate the power of Lassen High.
Live Oak managed to gain one more basket and a good free throw by the end of the quarter, but their attempts were hardly noticed as 19-8, Lassen, was plastered on the scoreboard.
The Lions made two baskets to kick off the second quarter, but the advance was hardly worth note. Martin scored a good free throw before Live Oak got another shot at the net.
Martin hit another basket 11 minutes into the game and followed with three free throws 30 seconds later.
Two more baskets for Live Oak brought the boys to a timeout with 25-19 on the board.
Bennett erupted from the pause in the game with a three-pointer to give the Grizzlies a solid nine-point lead.
Martin and Arnold were next to score for Lassen and finished the half on the high end of a 32-23 score.
Martin took charge at the start of quarter three by throwing in the ball to Arnold. Without missing a beat, Arnold landed a two-point field goal and turned around to score a three-pointer less than a minute later.
Live Oak swooped in with a basket at 5:48, but Arnold wasn’t finished with the spotlight. A basket at 5:29 brought Lassen to 39 points, and his three-point shot at 5:06 only sent the crowd into a wilder frenzy.
With all of the hype in the gymnasium, the Grizzlies let their guard slip. Live Oak took this opportunity to pop in two free throws, a couple two-point baskets and a three-pointer.
Luckily, the nine-point Lion jump snapped the Grizzlies back into the game. Will Ashmore hit a three-pointer with less than two and a half minutes on the board, Arnold sank a basket one minute later, and DelCarlo finished off the quarter by scoring a rebound.
The final quarter welcomed the Grizzlies with an 11-point lead.
Martin only furthered the lead with a basket at 7:08 and a good free throw to follow.
After another layup by Martin, Live Oak broke the silence from their end with a good free throw and a basket not long after.
With an assist from Ashmore, DelCarlo made an easy layup with four minutes remaining of the game.
Arnold hit a basket and good free throw to bring Lassen up to 59 points, and with less than three minutes on the board, DelCarlo caught a defensive rebound and launched the ball down court to Ashmore, who then made a two-point field goal.
Bennett made another two good free throws before entering the final two minutes of the game, and Ashmore followed with another layup just to further solidify Lassen’s lead.
Live Oak landed their final three-pointer and proceeded to flounder for the remainder of the game.
At 1:16, the Lions lost their dignity with the game. Ashmore received two penalty shots after an angry Lion took his frustration out on the wrong Grizzly. Both penalty shots were good.
Korbin Drake was the last to score for Lassen with an assist from Travis Wood and 32 seconds on the clock.
Lassen ended the game on the winning end of a 68-46 score. With their win, the Grizzlies were ushered to the Pierce High School gymnasium to battle the Bears in the semi-finals.
The results were 60-55, Pierce. With the victory, Pierce moved on to the championship round against Corning High School on Friday, March 3.
Thus, the Grizzlies finished off their season in third place for the Northern Section California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Tournament.
After claiming the title of Northern Athletic League Champions for the first time in 27 years, the Grizzlies have proven that the 2016-17 season is one for the books, even without the title of Section Champions.