Apparently they’re not the worst team in the state of California after all.

After being ranked dead last in the preseason out of 98 community college teams in the state in at least one poll, the College of the Redwoods men’s basketball team came flying out of the starting gates with an impressive 89-82 win over the host school at the San Jose Tip Off on Thursday afternoon.

Thomas Nelson led the way with 29 points in the win, as the Corsairs rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit.

“I thought they did an incredible job of immediately implementing the adjustments that we needed to make defensively,” head coach Ryan Bisio said.

All in all it was an impressive start to the season for a very new-look CR team, and an immediate improvement for a program that was winless last season.

“We played the host team in a true road game in our first game of the year and that’s a difficult task,” Bisio said. “We are thrilled with the outcome today.”

The team’s high-octane offense didn’t disappoint, with Drew Gillette scoring 21 points and Zac Claus and Donald Willis 18 apiece.

Willis had a particularly impressive start to his collegiate career.

“His toughness, his focus, his versatility, it was stunning today,” Bisio said of Willis, praising in particular his overall floor game.

Claus too stepped up big, scoring CR’s first 3-pointer of the game and closing out with a pair of 3-point plays to help seal the win.

Nelson too impressed and was “special today,” according to his coach, including nailing a huge alley-oop dunk midway through the second half on a momentum-changing play.

The Corsairs play Foothill to conclude the two-day tournament on Friday at 1 p.m.


Ray Hamill writes at, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.