It was a good day one for the Turlock High boys basketball team, which started off the four-day Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops tournament with a victory on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs came out victorious over Castlemont of Oakland, 72-62.
“I thought we came out offensively, we were a lot smarter and more patient,” said Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot. “We ran our offensive sets and got some easy baskets early on and I think that kind of bred confidence.”
Anchored by Mustafa Noel-Johnson's team-high 18 points, the 'Dogs managed to crash the inside of the paint with easy buckets from the get-go, mainly by the 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame of Johnson along with Adrian Espinoza, Arik Bains Michael Patterson and Cam Sherwood.
Turlock led by as many as 12 points in the first half and carried a 37-29 into the halftime break.
“That set the tone early on, which made it clear we could score on them if we could get into our offensive sets,” said Cornfoot.
Turlock made just two three's in the second half as they kept attacking the paint with their high percentage shots.
Castlemont cut the lead to five after the third quarter concluded but the 'Dogs finished strong.
Turlock managed to outscore Castlemont 21-18 in the fourth to secure the team’s third win in nine games.
The win also snaps a five-game losing streak for Turlock, which goes to 3-6.
“...today it was there from the beginning and maintained itself all the way through,” said Cornfoot. “That was definitely a positive step in the right direction.”
Turlock was 15 of 27 from the free-throw line. They also managed to grab 18 defensive rebounds and four on offense. They had 12 turnovers while amassing eight steals and had a total of 10 assists combined.
“We wanted to make them work hard on defense and I thought they would get out and run,” said Cornfoot. “I don't know much about them but we wanted to make sure to make them work on defense and maybe breakdown. The effort was there I think that was one of the things we talked about was to compete.”
They competed and more.
Patterson was second with 16 points and Espinoza followed with 13. Bains notched 11 and Sherwood added nine.
Turlock has an 8-20 record in the MC tournament since 2009. Their best finish during that span was 2-2 (2009 and 2013). The 'Dogs went 0-4 last year in the tournament, including a 1-7 record the last two years.
“We are going to just go after it,” said Cornfoot. “If a team beats you and they are just better, accept defeat and move on but I think our last couple games we came out lethargic and just didn't compete and today I thought we went out and got after it with more energy and it fuels momentum as well.”
Turlock will next take on the winner of Ceres and Modesto Christian at 6:30 p.m. today.
“Hopefully we come out ready to compete,” Cornfoot added. “We will play anybody. I just want us to get better, so the fact that we next get a winning team gets us to measure where we are and another step that will get us ready for league.”
Turlock will begin league play on Jan. 4 against El Capitan.