Photo by: Maddie Harrell

REDDING, Calif. – The Shasta College's men's basketball beat visiting Lassen College 71-56 Saturday on sophomore night, setting up the Knights for a co-Golden Valley Conference championship in the final game of the season.

Shasta is one game behind GVC leader College of the Redwoods and the two square off Wednesday in the final game of the year. The Knights won the earlier matchup and a win would give the Knights the tiebreaker and the automatic bid to the state playoffs. A loss, drops the Knights to a bubble team, coach Kele Fitzhugh said.

The Knights had to take care of business first against Lassen College and it was the non-starters who stepped up in the win. Jonny Cruz scored 15 points and Shasta's bench outscored Lassen 27-11 in the game.

"I told Jonny last week that he was playing like he was a reserve but there are no reserves on this team; there are players who start and those who don't but the guys coming off the bench have to play with confidence," Fitzhugh said. "That was the Jonny I wanted to see."

Shasta never trailed in the game and was locked in shooting for most of the first half, sporting 36 points with 5:47 left. Tanner Bidwell was aggressive with penetration and driving to the hoop, freshman Derek Gorden dropped in timely buckets and Zach Thompson hit back-to-back jumpers from the free throw line to put Shasta ahead 13. But the Knights went scoreless the rest of half, allowing the visiting Cougars to go on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to five at the break.

Cruz and Gorden, who also finished with 15 points, each hit a pair of 3s early in the second half to highlight a 19-3 Shasta run that allowed the Knights to separate from a five-point lead to go up comfortably. Brendan Hoag drove the lane for 2 and the Knights active movement to get open shots was key in taking over.

"It's nice to hit some 3s during that stretch and they were good 3s based on penetration kick-outs instead of east-west and launch," Fitzhugh said. "I tell them 'it's not the 3 itself, it's how we get it and the percentage goes way up if you go inside-out.'"

Lassen didn't get closer than 12 the rest of the way and every active player got in the game for the Knights.

Thompson and Bidwell played their final home game at Shasta College and scored 13 and 11 points, respectively. Simmer Singh had a team-best seven rebounds and Michael Plunkitt added five steals.

Team GVC, Overall
Redwoods 7-2, 20-5
Shasta 6-3, 15-12
Butte 5-4, 15-10
Feather River 4-5, 9-16
Siskiyous 3-6, 9-17
Lassen 2-7, 6-17