The No. 7 Wildcats welcome Acker Gym with a win in their CCAA home opener


Javier Hernandez

The Wildcats walking out of their locker after their half time intermission.

The Chico State Men’s Basketball team went on a tough three-game road trip for their California Collegiate Athletic Association debut, but prevailed in all three and are now 7-0. 

They swept their opponents including the then No. 21 Cal Poly Pomona Broncos and No. 11 Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes

According to Luke Reid, Chico State’s sports information director, this was the first time ever the Wildcats have swept their annual trip against the Broncos and Coyotes.

This trip propelled them to the No. 7 ranking in Division II standings. 

The Sonoma State Seawolves, their next opponent, broke their seven-game losing streak against the San Francisco State Gators on Dec. 4. 

Both teams had momentum going into their match-up.

The No. 7 Wildcats ended up being too much for the Seawolves. Defeating the Seawolves improved their record to 8-0, their third ever 8-0 start in Wildcat history. Their first since the 1942-43 campaign.

There was early foul trouble for the Wildcats, as forwards Kelvin Wright Jr. and Kaleb Carter each  received two fouls within the first seven minutes of the first half. 

This meant experimenting with some different lineups for the Wildcats, as backup freshman forward Isaiah Holm was inactive due to a wrist injury. 

Guard Kevin Warren said he prides himself on being a versatile player. He had to play  forward due to foul trouble.

Guard Kevin Warren dunking on a fast break.

“I just try to give the team whatever they need, I am comfortable playing one through four,” Warren said.

Forward Malik Duffy had to do more of the traditional center duties and had a team high 12 rebounds.

“I had to key in on rebounding and change up my defense during my minutes at the five,” Duffy said.

Despite the foul trouble, Wright Jr. was able to block five shots, which is a career high. He leads the CCAA with two blocks per game.

“We come in 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 out to a 38-27 lead. They held the Seawolves 40% from the field and 28.6% from the three-point line during the first 20 minutes of the game. 

Guard Isaiah Brooks said Coach Clink always emphasizes the importance of defense. 

“If we want to do big things during this season, it starts with our defense,” Brooks said. 

Guard Isaiah Brooks bringing up the ball against the Seawolves.

In the second half, the defense stayed just as stingy, but the Wildcat offense picked up their end of the bargain. At the eight minute mark, Duffy threw up a 3-pointer which led to a 22 point lead for the Wildcats.

They didn’t look back after that and cruised their way to a 81-61 win over the Seawolves. 

The Wildcats continue their historic start to their season, but this doesn’t mean anything to Clink.

“We don’t set many goals, but we do talk about having the best defense in the West Region,” Clink said.”

The Wildcats were led by their three stellar seniors Duffy, Wright and Brooks, who combined for 59 points, while shooting 60% percent from beyond the arc. 

Warren said this team is special, and anyone can have their big nights.

“It could be anybody, any game,” Warren said. “There is no ego, this makes us harder to cover.”

Brooks, who started the season slow from the three-point line, has now made 17 of his last shots from beyond the arc. 

“The coaches reinstated confidence in me,” Brooks said. “I just kept getting shots up, making about 100-200 shots per day, and I am now starting to see the results.”

The Wildcats are  shooting 49% from the field and 40% from 3-point territory on the season. Clink credits this to the great shot selection the team has had. 

“We can’t get complacent or stagnant,” Clink said, “we just have to keep getting better everyday.” 

The Wildcats’ start is historic, and Brooks said sticking together will keep them rolling through adversity. 

“At the end of the day we all have each other’s back,” Brooks said. “If we keep that mentality, then we can do special things.”

The Wildcats will attempt to keep their unbeaten streak alive on Dec. 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