By Brett Appley-Correspondent
OROVILLE >> The Oroville High boys basketball team fell short Wednesday, losing 67-54 to Enterprise in the semifinals of Northern Section CIF playoffs.
The Tigers, who were the No. 2 seed in the tournament, escaped against Paradise in the quarterfinals Saturday. Although Enterprise was ranked as the No. 3 seed, the pregame talk revolved around how Oroville would be able to handle Enterprise’s stars, including Kaelan Crisosto and Justin Abney.
Oroville immediately started the game with high-pressure defense, which created lots of physicality. While the Hornets successfully moved the ball around and created quality possessions, the Tigers relied mostly on driving to the rim. Enterprise took advantage of the sloppiness and broke out to a 22-11 first quarter lead.
Led by Kahliel Wyatt and Derrek Gordon, Oroville slowly mounted a comeback, inching closer and closer to a tied game. But while the Tigers fought their way to the free-throw line countless times, they struggled, and finished the half 6/12 from the line. Enterprise took a 28-26 lead into the locker room, led by 10 points from Abney. Wyatt was the leading scorer for Oroville at the half with nine points.
The Hornets came out re-energized in the second half and didn’t let pressure or energy from the home crowd affect their style of play, stuffing shots under the hoop and finding open buckets. As time elapsed, the refs became involved on almost every play and the game started to get chippy. Oroville constantly got to the line, but couldn’t take advantage of it, shooting slightly more than 50 percent.
Enterprise stayed calm and used their outside game in combination with big inside threats to spread out the Tigers’ defense. At the end of the third quarter, Enterprise still had control and was winning 46-39.
Oroville mounted one final comeback in the fourth quarter, as Tyler Liese scored six points and Gordon scored several of his own. But little mistakes, like not boxing out or throwing sloppy passes contributed to too many second-chance points, and Enterprise never gave up the lead. Back-to-back steals in the final minute sealed the deal for the Hornets and Crisosto finished the game at the line on nearly every possession.
Crisosto was one of a few stars for Enterprise in this contest, scoring 26 points, 19 in the second half. Abney also dominated on offense for the Hornets, scoring 19 points from everywhere on the floor, with a huge dunk in the mix.
Gordon led the scoring charge for Oroville with 15 points, followed by nine points from Wyatt.
“It was the best season I ever had,” Gordon said. “I love playing with my family and these group of kids. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Oroville head coach Robert Anderson said mistakes were really costly against the tough opponent.
“In the key moments, we didn’t take care of the ball,” Anderson said. “We turned it over to them, which you can’t do if you’re going to be in a game against a great team like Enterprise. This season is definitely a success and it’s because of these kids. These kids deserve all the credit. I just get to be the head of the ship and hopefully steer them in the right direction.”
Enterprise will face No. 4 seeded Shasta in the finals Friday.