Turlock High’s boys basketball team has kicked off the 2014 season with a pair of hard-fought wins over Modesto High and McNair High, improving to a 2-0 record by a combined margin of five points. For the Bulldogs, this type of close competition is nothing new.
Last year’s squad was involved in a number of close games, but none closer than their two Central California Conference games with Atwater High in which the Bulldogs lost by a single point each time. The pair of losses bit Turlock by the end of the CCC season as its boys watched Merced High and Golden Valley High share the league title with a two-game advantage.
For the starters who have returned from last season, namely seniors Devan Bains, Demsen McFaddin and Travis Cook, it’s an outcome they don’t want to experience again.
“Those three seniors, they still have a bad taste in their mouth,” Turlock assistant coach Rick Fetter said of last year’s finish.
The senior trio — the top three scorers from last season behind the now-graduated Kenny Fraser— are now in leadership roles for a fresh crop of juniors up from the JV level. Whereas last season’s offense was predicated on the standout Fraser and supported by guards McFaddin and Bains, who finished with 303 and 291 points, respectively, this year’s offense will be a points-by-committee approach.
“We could lean on him for scoring situations when we needed a bucket. I think now it’s a next-man-up. Everybody has to contribute,” Fetter said. “Offensively, everybody’s capable of scoring if we run our offense and share the ball. One guy can have a big game and the next game it could be somebody else.”
While the 2014 Bulldogs have a strong senior core, newcomers like Habib Velasquez have already showed promise on the court.
“We’ve got a good mix of older and younger, juniors and seniors. The juniors are ready to learn and watch how the seniors work hard,” Fetter said. “They’re focused to keep working hard and to build that chemistry. Every game it’s getting stronger and stronger.”
Turlock will continue to build its chemistry this Saturday against Monterey Trail High of Elk Grove and in next week’s Godinez Tournament before the beginning of CCC play on Jan. 9 against Atwater.
“We expect it to be the same kind of race. Our league is tough every single year. You got to show up to play every night,” Fetter said. “We have to work for it, we can’t just show up.”
Turlock and Monterey Trail will play at Warrior Arena on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus on Saturday with a start time of 5 p.m.