Turlock High’s 46th annual Frank Godinez Boys Basketball Tournament gets underway Thursday with four games at the THS gymnasium on Berkeley Avenue.
The tournament tips with a 4 p.m. contest between Golden Valley (Merced) and Venture Academy (Stockton). At 5:30, Beyer (Modesto) takes on Riverbank, followed by Merced vs. Modesto at 7. The marquee matchup of the evening takes place at 8:30 when the host Bulldogs take on Davis (Modesto).
Turlock, the defending tournament champion, will be looking for their 12th overall tournament title. Merced, Davis, Riverbank and Venture Academy all will be looking for their first Godinez crown. Modesto has won the tournament four times (1983, ’87, ’89, ’91), Golden Valley twice (2018, ’19) and Beyer once (1994).
Here’s a capsulized look at each of the eight teams in the tournament:
Turlock Bulldogs Roster
1 Jedrick Ladine, Sr., PG, 6-1
2 Claxton Ladine, Fr., G, 5-10
3 Jordan Williams, Sr., F
4 Dutch Lawrence, So., G
10 Andrew Johnson, Jr., F
11 Gavin Cox, Sr., C
12 Josh Weatherbee, Sr., F
15 Jeremiah Evans, So., C
25 Dayne Hart, So., G
33 Peter Wilson, Jr., F
Coach: Nick Nathanson, second season (23-10)
Record: 3-2 heading into Dec. 6 game against Kimball
Last season: 20-8 overall, 8-2 CCAL, league co-champs
Outlook: The Bulldogs lost nine seniors to graduation, but coach Nick Nathanson thinks this year’s team, with a full year in his system under its collective belt, will be better. Turlock’s two losses this preseason have both been five-point setbacks to undefeated Atwater. The Bulldogs are looking to defend their Godinez championship.
Coach: Adrian Sanchez, fourth season (36-38)
Last season: 18-11 overall, 9-3 CCC, league co-champs
Outlook: The Bears shared the CCC championship last year with ancient rival Atwater. Those team are expected to be in the thick of the race again this year. Merced opens Godinez play against Modesto, a team they beat 85-41 on Dec. 1. The Bears, who lost in the Godinez championship game last year, will be looking to finish the job this season.
Coach: Greg Taylor, first season
Last season: 7-12 overall, 2-8 CCAL
Outlook: What the Panthers lack in size they make up for with experience. Eight of Modesto’s 12 players are seniors. All three of Modesto’s losses this year have come to teams that qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs a year ago. The Panthers are still getting to know first-year head coach Greg Taylor.
Coach: Brennan Pope
Last season: 2-22 overall, 1-11 WAC
Outlook: After a difficult season in 2021-22, the Spartans are off to another rough start this year, losing all three of their games by an average of 41 points. Davis will be looking to turn around its season with a strong showing at the Godinez tourney under first-year head coach Brennan Pope, a Davis graduate. Either way, the future looks bright with Caynan Gardner (a 6-6 sophomore), Ronnie Turner and Gabriel Del Real (6-5 juniors).
Coach: Kyle McKim, ninth season (155-74)
Record: 3-1 heading into Dec. 6 game against Central Valley
Last season: 17-13 overall, 11-4 WAC
Outlook: The Patriots are consistently one of the better programs in the area, averaging 20 wins per year under head coach Kyle McKim, who guided his team to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game in 2016 and is easily the winningest coach in the tournament field. The Pats are always a threat to take home the Godinez tourney’s top prize.
Golden Valley Cougars
Coach: Derrick Jacobs, third season (15-30)
Record: 0-6 heading into Dec. 6 game against Ripon
Last season: 10-18 overall, 5-7 CCC
Outlook: The Cougars are off to a sluggish start this season, with three of their losses by 20 or more points. Things will get no easier at the Godinez tourney, with a first-round matchup against Venture Academy, a team that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game last year.
Coach: Ylii Lopez, second season (12-20)
Record: 2-4 heading into Dec. 6 game against Bret Harte
Last season: 10-16 overall, 4-8 TVL
Outlook: The Bruins were one of the better small-school programs in the region under longtime head coach Jeff Jennings, who stepped aside after going 0-10 during the COVID season. Ylii Lopez, in his second season, is trying to put his stamp on the program. A win at the Godinez tournament would go a long way toward doing just that.
Venture Academy Mustangs
Coach: Eric King, fifth season (78-26)
Last season: 24-7, 10-0 CCAA; Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finalist
Outlook: Easily the tallest team in the tournament, Mustangs players average 6-feet, 2-inches tall (and that’s with two 5-8 guards factored in). Venture Academy is coming off the most successful season in the school’s history, making it all the way to the Northern California regional tournament. The only knock against the Mustangs is that there are just two seniors on the roster, making it one of the youngest squads in the tournament, as well.