The Chicco State men’s basketball team went on a tough three-game wild ride in their California IAAF debut, but won all three and is now 7-0.
They swept their opponents including the then Cal Poly Pomona Broncos #21 and #11 California San Bernardino Coyotes.
According to Luke Reid, Chico State’s director of sports information, this was the first time the Wildcats had ever swept their annual run against the Broncos and Coyotes.
This trip propelled them to the seventh place in the ranking of the second division.
The Sonoma State Seawolves, their next opponent, broke their seven-game losing streak against the San Francisco State Gators on December 4.
Both teams had the momentum into the match.
Wildcats #7 was too much for sea wolves. Defeating the Seawolves improved their record to 8-0, their third 8-0 start in Wildcat history. For the first time since the 1942-43 campaign.
There was an early bug issue for the Wildcats, with both attackers receiving Kelvin Wright Jr. And Kaleb Carter made two mistakes within the first seven minutes of the first half.
This meant trying out a few different formations for the Wildcats, with new reserve striker Isaiah Holm rendered inactive due to a wrist injury.
Goalkeeper Kevin Warren said he prides himself on being a versatile player. He had to play forward because of a foul problem.
“I’m just trying to give the team everything they need, I’m comfortable playing one to four,” Warren said.
Striker Malik Duffy had to do more traditional midfield duties and had a team high on 12 rebounds.
“I had to step into the rebound and change my defense during the five minutes I had,” Duffy said.
Despite the fatal problem, Wright Jr. managed to block five shots, a career high. He leads the CCAA with two groups per game.
“We come every day and focus on our defense,” Wright Jr. said.
Defense has been this team’s strength this season and that was evident in the first half, as they jumped to a 38-27 lead. They grabbed the Seawolves 40% of the field and 28.6% of the three-point streak during the first 20 minutes of the game.
Goalkeeper Isaiah Brooks said coach Klink has always emphasized the importance of defense.
“If we want to do big things during this season, it starts with our defense,” said Brooks.
In the second half, defense remained scant, but the Wildcat attack overshadowed the deal. At the eight-minute mark, Duffy threw a triple pointer which led to a 22-point lead for the wildcats.
They didn’t look back then and made their way to an 81-61 win over the Seawolves.
The Wildcats are continuing their historic start to their season, but that means nothing to Clink.
“We haven’t set many goals, but we’re talking about having the best defense in the Western Region,” Klink said.
The Wildcats’ Big Three were led by stars Duffy, Wright and Brooks, who collected 59 points, while shooting 60% from behind the arc.
This team is special, Warren said, and anyone can have their big nights.
It could be anyone, any game,” Warren said. “There’s no ego, and that makes it hard for us to cover ourselves up.”
Brooks, who started the season slow from the three-point streak, now has 17 of his last shots from outside the arc.
“The coaches trusted me back,” Brooks said. “I’ve kept getting shots, doing about 100-200 shots a day, and now I’m starting to see results.”
Wildcats shoot 49% from the field and 40% from a 3-point area during the season. Klink credits this to the team’s impressive selection.
“We can’t get complacent or sluggish, we just have to keep getting better every day,” Klink said.
The Wildcats’ start is historic, and Brooks said sticking together will keep them rolling through adversity.
“At the end of the day, we all support each other,” Brooks said. “If we keep that mindset, we can do special things.”
The Wildcats will try to keep their unbeaten streak alive on December 18 as they host the Humboldt State Lumberjacks at 7:30 p.m. at Acker Gym.
Javier Hernandez can be contacted at [email protected] or @jhm1226 on Twitter