Wildcats display their resilience


Arrow VanAbrams

The Wildcats huddle before the game against Sonoma State.

The Chico State men’s basketball team (20-6) fought through a shaky first half to beat the Sonoma State Seawolves (5-20) 77-58 in the last regular season home game of the year on Saturday Feb. 22. 

Fans and players alike came together to honor the lone senior of the Wildcats, center Justin Briggs, prior to the senior night game. Acker Gym was packed to the brim to show support for Briggs and his squad. The crowd cheered emphatically when Briggs touched the ball and periodically brought out “let’s go Justin” chants throughout the game, making sure the senior knew his presence in the gym will be missed after the season.

“It’s surreal, the season went by fast this year. I’m excited for postseason, getting these games out of the way and getting some wins,” Briggs said.

Briggs, the Wildcats’ all-time block record holder, posted six points along with five rebounds and three blocks. Guard Calvin Geraci and forward Malik Duffy put up big numbers offensively for Chico State, scoring 21 points apiece while both shooting 50% from the field. 

“It always feels great (to put up big scoring numbers),” Geraci said. “Malik had 21 too so it’s cool doing it with someone else. They were giving me a ton of open shots and obviously everyone tells me to shoot it, so that’s what I did.”

The Wildcats started the game sluggishly. There were five lead changes in the first half as the Seawolves were keeping up with the much higher-ranked Chico State. The Wildcats shot an abysmal 25% in the first half.

Freshman guard Joshua Hamilton was a bright spot in a struggling Chico State offense in the first half. He posted eight points including an acrobatic and-one in the closing minutes that caused the fans in Acker Gym to erupt with excitement. 

“I stay aggressive as best I can while trying to take care of the ball at the same time,” Hamilton said about his first-half scoring mentality.

The Wildcats came out in the second half with a fire they lacked in the first. Duffy and Geraci set the tone, hitting back-to-back threes in the face of Seawolves defenders, bringing the momentum of the game to Chico States side. The Wildcats controlled the rest of the game, holding a steady 10 plus point lead throughout the entire second half.

“I wouldn’t say anything changed. In the first half we were getting good shots. It’s just all about knocking them down,” Hamilton said about the offensive resurgence in the second half.

This was the third straight win for the resilient Wildcat squad. They will look to continue their hot streak in Arcata against a 9-17 Humboldt State team on Feb. 27.

Arrow VanAbrams can be reached at [email protected] or @Arrow__3 on Twitter.