Rebounding, inexperience hurt Chico High in non-conference loss

Rebounding, inexperience hurt Chico High in non-conference loss

CHICO — Each year the Chico High basketball team schedules difficult opponents ahead of Eastern Athletic League play, and this season is no different. Chico High’s 2021 team, which features just three seniors, is working to establish its identity as the Panthers get players back from its football team as well as injuries.

Chico High coach Abraham Simmons said the team has yet to get a full practice together despite playing seven games thus far. Simmons said each game players are learning to trust each other, which will help prepare the team for its EAL schedule that begins Jan. 6 at home against Foothill.

Chico High (2-5) battled hard on Tuesday against a taller and much more experienced Woodcreek team that features nine seniors. The Panthers took a lead at two different times in the second quarter, but after trailing 27-23 at halftime Chico High could never overcome the Timberwolves’ lead.

Woodcreek (2-5) defeated Chico High 58-48 at Chico High.

Chico High trailed 16-13 after the first quarter, before Jaiden Henry opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 16 apiece. The Panthers took their first lead of the game at 18-16, and once more at 20-18.

Chico High guard Alex Padilla, 12, drives along the baseline during while being defended by Woodcreek’s Josh Polley, 21, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 in Chico, California. (Justin Couchot/Enterprise-Record)

“The game plan for the game was to run the shot clock down and play hard. This team was really good, we have a really tough preseason so we can’t sit back,” said senior Alex Padilla. “We started to play hard once we realized we could play with these guys and that was the turning point.”

However after Chico took the lead at 20-18, Woodcreek went on a 9-0 run to take a 27-20 lead — a lead it would not give up for the remainder of the game.

“We just have to learn to trust each other but there were a few stretches where we didn’t run the offense as crisply as we should’ve and trust each other and that was a difference in the game,” Simmons said.

Padilla was second on Chico High in scoring with 12 points, including two of the Panthers’ four 3-pointers. Junior Phil Bernardez led Chico High in scoring with 16 points. For Woodcreek, Taye Hollins led with 18 points, Austin Ito had 15 points and Amari Taylor scored 11 points. Hollins made three of the Timberwolves’ six 3-pointers.

With under two minutes to play Chico trailed by nine points at 54-46. The Panthers players were determined not to give up. Rashad Samuels stole the ball near mid court and the lefty drove to the hoop for a layup to cut the lead to seven with 1:22 to play. Chico High looked to have two more possessions, but it was unable to get a rebound on a missed shot by Woodcreek, and on its final possession the Panthers tried to find Padilla for an outside shot but when the senior became open he was unable to find the bottom of the net.

During timeouts and throughout the game Simmons emphasized to his team that players needed to attack the glass and rebound the ball much better than they were. Simmons said after the game that Chico is not a very big varsity team and it is going to go against bigger and stronger teams.

“If we are going to have success we’ve got to get nasty. When a shot goes up we got to hit guys and we got to go get the ball and tonight it was inconsistent,” Simmons said. “But it’s something we’ve been improving upon and hopefully we’re going to have that mentality that we’re going to be a  better rebounding team.”

Chico High will now prepare for the Marysville Tournament that begins Thursday. The Panthers will play Pioneer High of Woodland at 3:30 p.m. Thursday before playing games Friday and Saturday. Chico High will return home to host Yuba City at noon Tuesday in a non-league matchup.


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