The Chester Volcanoes basketball team poses for a group photo after competing in the Northern Section Division VI championship March 1 in Chico. The Volcanoes went up against Redding Christian and lost 51-43. The loss broke the Volcanoes’ 12-game winning streak. Photo by Tony Cordero
All good things must come to an end. The Chester boys’ basketball team learned this first hand March 1 when Redding Christian took down the Volcanoes 51-43 at the Division VI championship game in Chico.
Chester was the number one seeded team in the playoffs while Redding Christian was seeded second.
Chester came off an 11 game winning streak and seemed unstoppable. To boot, the last time the two teams faced off, Feb. 5, Chester walloped Redding Christian 64-46. The odds were in the Volcanoes’ favor, but strong defensive play by the Lions put a stop to Chester’s powerhouse.
“I knew exactly what (Redding Christian) was going to do,” said Chester’s coach Joe Gilmour. “We just didn’t react very well. We have a pretty young team, as well, while three quarters of their team are seniors.”
Of the 14 players on Redding Christian’s roster, nine are seniors. In contrast, Chester only has nine players on its roster, and only two are seniors.
The loss ended Chester’s season with a 24-6 record. In league play, Chester finished 10-2. In the 2010-11 season, the Volcanoes had a 23-5 record, but made it only to the semi-championship. This year the Volcanoes went all the way.
Redding Christian had a big push towards the end of the half that helped it win the game. The Lions’ defense shut down nearly every scoring attempt by Chester, and their offense made a series of good shots.
Another aspect that contributed to Chester’s loss was the number of missed opportunities on the Volcanoes’ end. Of their first 18 three-point attempts, the Volcanoes only sank one into the basket. Redding Christian was quick to the rebound and used the missed shots to its advantage.
“We just could not get a basket,” said Gilmour. “They played very good defense on us. I think we just didn’t play that well against them. Defensively they really gave us problems and we just made a lot of mistakes.”
The game began a fairly even match. The two teams traded the lead through the first quarter, but Redding Christian came out a little ahead, 13-11, going into the second quarter.
Midway through, the Lions’ defense shifted into overdrive. One attempt after another was halted. Redding Christian put a pressure on Chester it hadn’t seen all season. At the half the Lions were up 27-16. Redding Christian went on a 17-2 run. The Lions kept a double-digit lead until the final seconds of play.
The Volcanoes’ defense picked up in the third quarter, but Redding Christian still outscored them 9-7. Chester’s strongest turnaround took place in the fourth quarter when the Volcanoes outscored Redding Christian for the first time in the game.
The Lions were too far ahead, however, and milked the clock every chance they got. Micah Bondon and David Estacio both made threes towards the end to cut the Lions’ lead to seven, but it was too late. Redding Christian made two more free throws to end the game 51-43.
Wyatt Durkin led the Volcanoes in scoring, with 11 points. Estacio was right behind Durkin with nine points and Thomas Kelly contributed eight to the team.
“It was a rough game,” continued Gilmour. “We just didn’t come out. The ball didn’t drop; it didn’t fall. We made some turnovers we shouldn’t have. All those things just added up to an eight-point loss.”
Chester 74, Paradise Adventist Academy 48
Earlier in the week, Feb. 26, the Volcanoes took down Paradise Adventist Academy 74-48 to advance to the championship. Chester dominated all aspects of the game to outscore the Cougars every quarter.
“It was a good game,” said Gilmour. “We ended up putting everything together.”
Chester started off hot and finished the first quarter with a 22-16 lead. Paradise Adventist slowly started coming back in the second quarter, however.
The two teams swapped points at the beginning of the second quarter. Once Chester was up 29-24, a long period of defensive domination ensued for nearly three minutes of play with no points scored.
Paradise Adventist broke the streak with a three pointer. A minute later the Cougars cut the lead to 31-30. The Volcanoes erupted after that to leave the Cougars in the dust. Estacio made one three-pointer after another to lead the Volcanoes into the half 43-32.
The Volcanoes simply took the game in the second half. In all, Chester outscored Paradise Adventist 31-16 in the final half. Durkin once again was Chester’s top scorer with 19 points. Estacio made 18 points, 12 from three-pointers.