The Lassen Community College men’s basketball team made top-seeded Golden Valley Conference team fight for the win during the home match Saturday, Jan. 27.
Lassen hosted the Butte Roadrunners with full intention of being the first team to soil Butte’s undefeated streak.
Though the game ultimately ended with Butte clutching the win, the Roadrunners had to perform at top speed to outdo the Cougars, and they ultimately won by a mere 11 points.
Head coach Will Freedman said, “I’m proud of our effort and execution today. Butte is a really good team and we executed our game plan almost to perfection. We are disappointed because the outcome was decided by a few mental breakdowns, but this is definitely something we can build off of. If we continue to play and mature as a team I think we can have a nice second half of conference.”
After taking on Butte, Lassen traveled to Shasta College for a rematch against the Knights Wednesday, Jan. 31.
The Cougars left the court with another loss after a very close game: 69-63, Shasta.
During the Jan. 27 match, he Cougars and the Roadrunners exchanged blows back and forth from the get-go.
After tying 7-7, Kameron Brandon granted the Cougars a two-point lead with a basket with 15 minutes and 50 seconds remaining of the first half.
The Cougar lead didn’t remain on the board for long, however, as Butte responded with a couple three-pointers.
Unwana Ekiko stepped up to the free throw line at 15:02 to bring in another Cougar point, and with a layup soon afterward, the home team had reached a double-digit score on the board.
Butte delivered a layup at 12:54, but Denzil Guwa was quick to counter with a basket.
Butte then advanced their lead by another three points via free throw and hook shot.
Brandon hit a basket at 10:26 and after anther Butte basket, Max Denham scored two free throws to bring the score to 20-18, Butte.
The two teams continued to trade points as the Roadrunners hit two two-point field goals and a three-pointer by the time the clock hit seven minutes, and the Cougars responded with a three-pointer from Ekiko and a rebound from Guwa.
With 6:47 on the board, Butte hit two good free throws to bring their tally to 29 points.
Brandon responded with a layup at 6:33, and thus the Cougars reached 24 points.
The Roadrunners then channeled their inner Looney spirit and took the lead out of the Cougar grasp with three free throws, two three-pointer, a two-point field goal and a rebound.
With the first half winding down rapidly, Ekiko took matters into his own hands and hurled the ball toward the basket just shy of the half court line. As the buzzer sang, the ball sank through the net and the Cougar fans went insane.
Lassen finished the half down by 13 points with a score of 41-28 favoring the Roadrunners, but the Cougar spirit was far from broken.
Butte started with speed in the second half with a free throw and a tip in by the time the first two minutes had come and gone.
However, the Cougars were ready to get back in action.
Xavier Lovelace and DeMario Newman each hit a layup to get the Cougars back in the game.
Butte responded with two two-point field goals, but Lassen wasn’t finished.
Another Cougar layup was delivered by Brandon at 14:28. Then, Denham upped the Cougar score by five points with a three-pointer and a couple free throws.
Butte hit a basket as the second half reached its final 13 minutes, but Brandon hit a basket in response.
The same play repeated itself with Butte up another two points and a basket by Guwa in response.
Butte then gained three points as the game hit 10 minutes with a free throw and an alley-oop.
Another two points by each team put the score at 60-42, Butte.
Then, a series of interceptions, sprints and layups brought the score to 60-51, Butte.
The Roadrunners hit a free throw to follow, but two good free throws by Newman only brought the Cougars closer to the win.
Another four Butte points were earned by the time the clock hit two and a half minutes.
With the exception of a three-pointer by Lovelace and a layup by Ekiko, both teams spent the remainder of the game at the free throw lines.
By the game’s end, the Roadrunners were sweating their tails off, but they still walked away with the 74-63 win.
As for the close game against Shasta on Jan. 31, Lassen finished the first half down by seven points with a score of 38-31, and though they outscored the Knights 32-31 in the second half, they were unable to steal the win.
Leading the team on the court, Newman scored a total of 21 points with seven rebounds and one block.
Ekiko scored 12 points with four rebounds and two assists, Brandon brought in 10 with five rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks and Lovelace hit nine points with eight rebounds and one assist.