The annual Modesto Christian Basketball tournament is one of the most competitive tournaments in the valley, as the Turlock High Bulldogs found out. The Bulldogs finished with a 2-2 record, taking 13th place after defeating Weston Ranch in one of the consolation brackets, 77-62.
“Going 2-2 is good, especially when the first team you played goes on to play in the championship game,” Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot said. “I like the direction that we're heading. I think we need to keep building off this experience and keep working hard every week, and I am happy with the way things are going.”
Despite finishing strong, the Bulldogs had their hands full in the first round. Turlock let a close game slip away from them in the second half after the seventh ranked team in state, according to Maxpreps—Monte Vista High of Danville—made a tremendous run in the third quarter as they sank all their shots in crunch time.
Things weren’t so good for the ‘Dogs, despite Kenny Fraser’s 22 points, and the Mustangs pulled away with a 68-45 win.
“We played 'til the third quarter stretch and then they outscored us bad after that,” Cornfoot said of the second half meltdown. “I feel we played two quarters of best ball this year, we just missed our opportunities late in the game and we played, defensively, one of the best games of the year.”
In the second round, the Bulldogs let go of a 10-point lead over Deer Valley going into the final quarter, and the game ended in a 58-56 disappointment — putting the team on the consolation bracket.
The Wolverines finished the game on fire as they outscored Turlock 14-3 and shut them down completely inside the paint — even after Fraser dominated the game with a double-double—adding on 29 points and 16 rebounds.
“I thought we played well; Deer Valley is one of the top teams in Nor Cal, but I think we were a little intimidated,” Cornfoot said. “This tourney, we see top tier teams from Nor Cal and area and it's fun to see how we size up with that competition.”
Finally, after two games that turned the other way in the second half, the Bulldogs battled Ripon High through the end and were able to notch a 56-44 win.
“I think we came out and got shots down early and that got our confidence going,” Cornfoot said. “We had a bit of a size advantage with Fraser but I think a lot of it was that we talked before the game to play with confidence.”
Fraser finished with 12 points, while Cameron Love added seven rebounds and 8 points. All but one player scored at least a point for Turlock in the win.
“I think a lot of it was getting momentum early on and that helped us win,” Cornfoot said.
Finally, in the game to claim the 13th spot, Turlock met up with Weston Ranch in what started out sluggish with the Bulldogs going down 17-13 after the first quarter but that would be the last time they trailed as they came out ready to play in the final three quarters and found themselves up by four at the half.
Not much changed in the second half as the ‘Dogs held on strong behind Fraser’s 27 points and seven boards. Bains topped out with 22 points for the game and Sean Downs' tough and consistent defense helped along with his four assists on the offensive side.
Turlock sank 15-of-21 at the free throw line for the game.
“Free throws helped us win that final game, but also playing consistent when we needed to,” Cornfoot said.
Fraser averaged 22.5 points per game in all four games of the tournament.
“It’s good to see how well these kids are and we see how to get on that level and we hope to continue coming back to the tourney as long as they invite us back,” Cornfoot said.
The Bulldogs will travel to Monterey Trail to face off at 7 p.m. next Monday.