There was just one team that stood between the Turlock High boys basketball players and a rematch with Modesto Christian in the championship game of the 34th annual Frank Godinez Tournament.
On Friday night, that particular team never waved the white flag against the Bulldogs, who were in charge throughout the semifinal game at Bulldog Arena. But it wasn’t until the final buzzer sounded that they were able to walk off their home court feeling relieved, earning the 76-67 win over a relentless Modesto High team.
“Modesto kept fighting,” Bulldogs coach Doug Cornfoot said.
The Panthers sure did, erasing a 21-point deficit to just eight after hitting three 3-pointers in a span of three minutes in the fourth quarter. But really, Turlock had it all under control, knowing Modesto just didn’t have enough time to pull off a miraculous ending.
With that, the Bulldogs will face Modesto Christian in the tournament’s championship game at 7 p.m. today. The last time the two teams played, it was epic. Turlock squeezed out a 68-67 win that was filled with last-minute drama in the 2009 Godinez title game, though Cornfoot and his Bulldogs felt accomplished after knocking off one of the best teams in California.
The Bulldogs feel like they can be competitive once again.
“I think we’ll do good because we scrimmaged (the Crusaders) two weeks ago and we played good against them,” said junior guard Alek Carlson, who led all scorers with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field. “It’ll be a good game.”
Modesto Christian didn’t have much trouble against Davis High in the other semifinal game on Friday, beating the Spartans by 19 points. It was a drastic change from the previous night, when the Crusaders needed an overtime to top an athletic Laguna Creek team.
Against Modesto, the Bulldogs got help from all over. Anthony Hubbard and Ashton Richardson were driving forces all night and finished with 18 and 11 points, respectively, while sophomore Dashawn Holcombe came off the bench to contribute 11. And Devon Day, a workhorse, provided six crucial points in limited action.
The win also marked the second time Turlock (3-1) beat Modesto in the young season, with the first one coming after the Bulldogs held the Panthers to just nine points in the fourth. And once again, it was the final period that made the difference. Turlock exploded for a 14-2 run to put the lead at 73-52 before the Panthers had their late-game rally that didn’t get far enough, as the Bulldogs held on for the win.
Now, it’s time for the other Modesto team.
“They’re big, they’re athletic,” Cornfoot said of the Modesto Christian Crusaders. “They got defense. We’re just going to come out and it’s going to be one of those things where we gotta go 32 minutes as hard as we can. I’m excited to see what happens. This will make us a good team, to play better teams.”
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