The Turlock High Bulldogs kept their hot start to the season going, winning the 2021 Godinez Tournament against some of the best schools in the area. Different players stepped up each game, and the Bulldogs leaned on their stellar team defense.
The first game was all about defense, with the Bulldogs only giving up 19 points overall. The team really locked down in the second half by giving up one point to secure the 76-19 victory.
“Defense was really good in the second half,” said head coach Nick Nathanson. “We were a little disappointed with how many points we let up in the first half, but only letting up one point in the second half was impressive. I’m really happy with our team’s effort, and it was a good team win.”
The most impactful player of the game had to be Gavin Cox. The 6-foot-7 junior was hunting rebounds all night long and ended with 11 total and seven offensive boards. He also added 26 points to lead the game, and the Bulldogs are counting on him to be a key contributor going forward.
“Our offense is very reliant on Gavin Cox crashing the boards,” said Nathanson. “We’re really excited to see what he could do over the next couple of years.”
Senior Kyle Ericksen contributed 22 points as well and picked up three assists.
The Bulldogs didn’t let up in the semifinals and secured a 70-46 win against Merced High. Turlock again relied on key defensive stops, but their outside shooting really helped them pull away.
Friday night belonged to Ericksen, who led the game scoring with 32 points and contributed with four rebounds. He got hot from downtown and made seven three-pointers which allowed Turlock to control the game throughout.
“He’s been doing that in practice every day and we’ve been waiting for him to explode, and it finally happened,” said Nathanson. “Up until this point he’s gotten off to slow starts, but we see what he can do in practice every day, so we loved to see it in the game today.”
Ericksen’s shots, along with the rest of the team, for the most part came off assists and the team hopes to keep that up moving forward.
“It’s all about ball movement and unselfish play, we just have to keep feeding the guy that has the hot hand,” said Nathanson.
The finals were between Turlock and Central Catholic, and like the rest of the tournament the Bulldogs never left any doubt and secured the 75-44 win.
The final game of the night belonged to senior guard Daniel Malagon, who had 21 points with five three points and four rebounds which won him the game’s most outstanding player award. While junior guard Jed Ladine didn’t contribute with a lot of scoring, he was all over the court making hustle plays like the 10 rebounds he grabbed.
“We always say we play for each other. With so many talented guys we’re going to feed the guy with the hot hand and it was Daniel tonight,” said Nathanson. “Jed did a lot of dirty work for us tonight. He got a lot of boards, played great defense and it was a real team win tonight.”
The game wasn’t all celebration though, because Ericksen went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He didn’t return to the game and he’s “day to day” right now and is expected to play this week. Even being unable to finish the game, his performance throughout the tournament was good enough to earn MVP honors.The team is hoping to keep this momentum going for the rest of the season.
“We just have to keep getting better and know this is not the end of the journey,” said Nathanson. “We’re looking to keep improving, keep stepping up and keep defending. Our defense is the backbone of this team and if we keep doing it, this ride will continue.”
The Bulldogs sit undefeated right now at 7-0 and are ranked 37th in the state and third in their section. They play a good number of tournaments coming up to prepare for the start of league play.