It may be the Christmas season, but Beyer High’s boys basketball team was not in a giving mood on Friday.
“We seem to think that teams will just gift-wrap games for us, and that’s just not the case,” said Turlock head coach Nick Nathanson after the Bulldogs defeated Beyer 67-65 in overtime to advance to today’s championship game against Venture Academy (Stockton) at the 46th annual Frank Godinez Tournament. “We have to give 100 percent every time out.”
The Patriots forced overtime on Prince Major’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Turlock’s 6-foot-7 big man Gavin Cox scored six of his game-high 34 points in the extra stanza — all three field goals were set up by entry lobs from junior Andrew Johnson — and the Bulldogs survived.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” said Nathanson. “We watched Beyer play last night against Riverbank, but they came out tonight and looked possessed.”
It looked as if it might be a long night for the Pats early on. Beyer had no answer for Cox, who scored 16 points in the first quarter as the Bulldogs built an early cushion. But Beyer held the senior to just six in the second.
“I wouldn’t say we stopped him,” said Patriots coach Kyle McKim. “He got into foul trouble. But we doubled him a lot and just dropped down on him and made sure we had active hands around him.”
Despite the 22 first-half points from Cox, Beyer was up 32-30 at the break and led by as many as six points six points in the fourth quarter.
But Cox and fellow senior Jed Ladine led the Bulldogs comeback.
A pair of free throws and a three-pointer by Ladine whittled Beyer’s lead to one, and Cox’s bucket-plus-one gave Turlock its first lead of the second half with 3 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the game.
But the Patriots pulled a Grinch and stole Turlock’s Christmas cheer by erasing a five-point advantage — Ladine’s second three-pointer of the quarter gave the ’Dogs a 59-54 lead — in the final 90 seconds.
Down by three with no timeouts and just 6.6 seconds remaining, McKim drew up a play on the fly and it worked to perfection.
Major faked a pass to Deven Hodge and pulled up for a three that just beat the horn.
“We did that last game, too, against Riverbank,” said Major. “I faked a kick-up and pulled a three. I felt like it was the same shot, and I had a good angle.”
After Beyer scored first to open the four-minute overtime, Cox and Johnson took over.
“Nathanson let us know that it was open (inside) every single time,” said Cox.
The tournament concludes today with four games: Davis takes on Modesto at 1:30 p.m. for seventh place, Riverbank plays Golden Valley at 3 p.m. for fifth place, Beyer and Merced tangle at 4:30 in the third-place game and Venture Academy and Turlock play for the title at 6 p.m.