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Wildcats take down Jacks in CCAA Opener while women find podium in Cross Country

The Chico State men’s and women’s basketball teams disposed of Humboldt State on Saturday night in the CCAA opener for both teams in Arcata. The women used a career high 31 points from Whitney Branham as she knocked down 7-3 pointers giving the Cats a 70-58 win. Chico (1-2; 1-0 CCAA) was finally able to hold on to a double-digit 4th quarter lead after letting a couple of big leads get away in their season opening Sonoma State Tournament.

The Wildcat men got a 20 point 4 rebound 4 block and 4 steal performance from Isaiah Ellis and took down the Jacks 70-58. Chico jumped out to an early lead despite struggling offensively early. Despite the many missed shots, Chico’s defense would put the clamps down on the Lumberjacks early, holding them to 26 1st half points.
With the win Chico is now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the CCAA.

Both the Chico State men and women get ready for their home openers on Wednesday. The women host Holy Names at 5:30pm on Wednesday while the men take on Dominican at 7:30. Both games can be heard on the Newstalk 1290 KPAY, the KPAY sports app and right here on KpaySports.com

The Chico State volleyball team saw their season come to an end despite a spirited run through the CCAA Championship Tournament. The Wildcats took down San Marcos on Thursday and then swept Cal State Los Angeles on Saturday, avenging early season losses in both cases, but the Cats ran into perennial power San Bernardino in the title tilt Saturday. After taking the first set, the Cats would fall in four. It was another great late season run for the Cats who finish their season at 17-14

Both the Chico State men’s and women’s cross country teams finish in the Top-10 at the National Championships in Evansville, Indiana. The women gritted their way to another 4th place podium finish. Sometimes athletes get in “the zone” and for Karlie Garcia, of the Wildcat women’s team, she found it. In only her second race of the season Garcia had the best NCAA Championships finish in the history of the Wildcat program finishing in 11th place. The solid senior class did great again with Hannah Dorman finished 16th, Alex Burkhart 42nd and Haley Kroll 65th.

The 4th place finish was far from a certainty. With 1000 meters to go the Cats were in a struggle for the final spot on the podium with defending national champion Grand Valley State and Alaska Anchorage, who beat the Cats at the regional two weeks ago. Chico was able to hold off those two powers for the hardware and a podium finish.

For the men Kyle Medina finished his Chico State career in style with a 4th place nationals finish. But, the Cats were plagued with injuries that struck during the race and made the possibility of a top-4 finish nearly impossible.
Three runners either didn’t meet their expectations because of injury or had to drop out of the race completely.
Still, the Wildcats were able to garner a 9th place finish. It is their 18th top-10 finish in the last 19 years.

The Butte College Roadrunner saw their football season come to an end with a 44-21 loss to Fresno City on Saturday. The Roadrunners finish the year at 5-6.

It was Almond Bowl Part II and for the Pleasant Valley Vikings that was not a good thing. For the Chico High Panthers it was glorious. For a program that had to watch the Viking Nation celebrate a state championship last year, the Panthers were able to sweep the 2017 regular season and post-season match-ups in dominant fashion.

The Panthers controlled the line of scrimmage running for 311 yards on 48 carries. Pleasant Valley couldn’t run the ball as they were held to 7 rushing yards on 17 carries. The 28-7 Chico High win was after a 23-3 win during the Almond Bowl on October 20th. The Panthers will play in the Section Title game this Saturday against Shasta High.

*PHOTOS courtesy of ChicoWildcats athletics at ChicoWildcats.com

Bumgarner Out 2 Months After Motor Bike Accident

By Chandler Guadagnin

The 6-11 Giants received more bad news on Thursday. Their ace Madison Bumgarner will be out 6 to 8 weeks with bruised ribs and  a Grade 1 or 2 AC strain in his left shoulder, which he sustained during a motor bike accident during the team’s off day in Colorado. Bumgarner was placed on the 10-day Disabled List following the accident. MadBum, who was taken to the hospital, and has since been released.

In four starts this season, Bumgarner is 0-3 and owns a 3.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts and four walks, while allowing 2 home runs in 27 innings pitched.

To say that San Francisco has had it difficult in the injury department is an understatement. Thus far, in  17 games, the Giants have placed Buster Posey on the 7-day concussion DL, lost Jarrett Parker for 10 weeks after he suffered a fractured clavicle and have now added Bumgarner to that list. Before the season even started, San Francisco was forced to surrender pitcher, Will Smith, to Tommy John surgery and shelf Michael Morse after a hamstring injury.

The Giants will slot Ty Blach into the rotation to replace Bumgarner.

Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com

Peaking Wildcats making a run at a National Championship……

 

It’s not that we didn’t think they could do it, but to expect it was totally unfair.

The Chico State men’s basketball is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota getting ready to take on Lincoln Memorial at the Elite Eight for Division II basketball. The Wildcats magic carpet ride was punctuated last weekend with three splendid performances against the three respective regular season champions in the West Region.

First, Chico knocked off high-scoring Western Washington 96-83. Despite giving up 83 points the Wildcats were more than happy getting in a shootout with the Vikings. For the first time in a long time the Wildcats found room to move on the floor. Passing lanes that were clogged and impediments that were common place during CCAA play all of sudden turned into wide gulfs of space with which they could run their offense unimpeded against a Western team that gave up nearly 80 points a game. It must have felt like a jail-break for Chico State.

The free-flowing offense where movement and motion was rewarded. It had been a while since Chico had been that wide open for drives and shots. The game was truly a testament to how good the CCAA is. To win the CCAA you MUST play defense, if not you will get carved to pieces.

On day two the Wildcats encountered a frisky bulldog-tough type of team in Hawaii-Pacific. If the Sharks were a baseball team I would affectionately call them a bunch of “dirt-bags.” Fluidity of play and dogged aggressiveness characterized the Pacific West Conference Champions. We saw them systematically take care of the best defensive team in the country, CCAA-rival Sonoma State. I was thoroughly impressed with their defensive doggedness and anticipated Chico State would have their hands full.

Chico’s 15-point lead with 9:30 to go eventually turned into a one-point deficit with 1:55 to go. A furious 25-9 rally by the Sharks had the Wildcats on their heels, before Chico State righted the ship. The Wildcats ability to rescue the game after coughing up a 15 lead showed Chico State had come a long way in a year. After Isaiah Ellis took a charge with the Cats down and with 4 fouls, Robert Duncan made a driving lay-up. After Corey Silverstrom registered a steal and driving bucket the Cats had the whip-hand and outlasted HPU 77-74. The win showed many of us Chico State lifers a toughness that at times had been missing over the last few years. It’s hard to be critical of a team that has had as much success as the Wildcats for the last several years. But, sometimes and on rare occasions, when things went south, the Cats had a hard time pulling themselves out of the abyss, especially in the middle of a game. Not this time, though.

This Chico State team made winning plays to beat Hawaii-Pacific. Sealed the game with defense and disciplined offense and moved on to the regional championship game against UC San Diego.

The championship tilt against the rival Tritons will simply go down as one of the great basketball games in Chico State Wildcats history. 10 days before this title match-up UCSD had come out in the CCAA semi-final game and as All-American guard Robert Duncan said, “punched Chico in the mouth.” With 4 minutes left in the 1st half UCSD had jumped out to a 27-11 lead. The Wildcat offense was stagnant. There was not movement, no aggressiveness, a passivity to their flow that was not conducive to winning basketball. When the final horn sounded it was San Diego 65-53 over Chico State. The final score only told a portion of the story. The Tritons had taken the fight to Chico State, and for this team to accomplish the things they wanted to accomplish, that had to change.

Right from the out-set you could tell the Wildcats wouldn’t lose this game for a lack of fight. On their first possession they would grab two offensive rebounds. They would attack on the offensive end. The ball moved, the players moved, there was cutting and motion, it was a thing of beauty. It was nothing like the three games the Wildcats had played against UCSD this year. There was a precision and rhythm to the Cats’ offensively that showed this team at their peak. To quote Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers, “all pistons firing operating as one.”

Ellis was simply other-worldly. The Wildcat junior scored 19 of his game high 34 in the first half. The Tritons having watched Chico hit 25-of-50 from three-point range in the first two games of the regional were reluctant to double Ellis, out of fear of leaving the triumvirate of Wildcat shooters open, they paid the price.

Even after an 11-0 run by the Tritons sent their faithful into a frenzy, giving UCSD a 57-51 lead, Chico would counter with a 14-7 run of their own and this time it was more than Ellis. Corey Silverstrom would get hot taking top of the key and wing three’s to set it off. All the other pieces for the Cats played well including the other duo on the “core-fore” Jalen McFerren and Duncan. The beauty of Duncan’s play is he facilitated much of the Wildcat success. In past year’s Chico had to have Duncan score, but this year Duncan and Wildcats thrive when he facilitates ball movement and action. His talents necessitates constant attention. That attention opens things up for his mates and in the regional Duncan has never been better. McFerren took the slings and arrows from all teams to run the offense with continuity and flow. His 37-minute 1 turnover performance may be one of the more over-looked great games of the season for the Cats, but not by those of us that saw him play.

Everyone in uniform for Chico State played well against San Diego. In retrospect there just wasn’t a player who didn’t play well, that how championship teams are crowned.

With as well as the Wildcats played they still had to withstand an incredible shooting display by the Tritons. UCSD shot 14-of-26 from three-point range, making Chico State pay for their double-teams against sophomore post Chris Hansen. The complimentary pieces were tremendous for San Diego, but as CCAA-MVP Adam Klie said after the game, “we just couldn’t get stops. They (Chico) just played really well.”

Knocking off three conference champions in four days is not an easy task. When you do it, deep down you have to think all things are possible and that is the attitude the Chico State Wildcats bring to Sioux Falls. The Cats finished in a tie for third in the CCAA, got knocked out in the semis of the CCAA Conference Tournament but their championship pedigree is undeniable.

This Chico State core pushed themselves to heightened levels of exhaustion just to win a CCAA regular season title in 2016. They would never win another game the night after they clinched. They expended so much energy to win that regular season title, they had nothing left.

There was a conscious effort as many Wildcats professed to me in October to perform and win in the NCAA Tournament. The conference accolades and rewards were nice, but the NCAA Tournament riches are better. This team knew this, and their experience in losing in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years lit a flame that, at times dimmed slightly, but never extinguished.

They are peaking. They are hungry. And, they don’t feel like they are anywhere near finished.