With big blue eyes, delicate features, and long unruly hair, Turlock High senior Jed Ladine looks more like an anime character than he does a basketball player. But make no mistake … Jed Ladine is a basketball player.
“Basketball is all I do,” said the 6-foot point guard after the Bulldogs’ 57-49 victory over Venture Academy in the championship game of the 46th annual Godinez Tournament on Saturday at Bulldog Arena. “It means everything to me.”
Sometimes, maybe even too much. Ladine plays with an intensity and aggression — uncontrolled at times — that can affect his game. In fact, at halftime of the title game, while his teammates disappeared into the locker room for a 10-minute break, Ladine and coach Nick Nathanson remained on the court, talking about the importance of maintaining one’s composure.
“I just needed to reset him a little bit,” said Nathanson, who won his second Godinez title in just his second year as the THS coach.
Ladine wears his emotions pinned to his uniform — since basketball jerseys have no sleeves — and that allows fans and opponents to know the exact moment when Ladine is irked by a call or a non-call or a miscue of some kind. This can momentarily distract him from running Turlock’s offense — something he does with great effectiveness.
“He’s always been that way … always,” said younger brother Claxton Ladine, a freshman who contributed valuable minutes in the Bulldogs’ title run. “But I think that fire serves him well.”
It served him well against the Mustangs. Ladine continuously got the ball inside to 6-foot-7 senior Gavin Cox — who finished with a game high 26 points — and hit seven out of eight free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Ladine entered the final eight minutes of action having scored just three points, but finished the night with 12.
“I want the ball in my hands when the game's on the line,” said Ladine, who had three dunks during the course of the tourney. “One hundred percent.”
The Bulldogs needed the ball in his hands — to make sure it was him that shot free throws as Venture Academy went into foul mode late in the contest, and to dish the ball to Cox, who was named tournament MVP after scoring 18 in the first game (he sat out the entire second half) and 34 in the second game.
Jordan Williams also stepped up in the finale as he finished with 12 points, all coming via three-pointers.
“As a kid I used to come to this tournament,” said Williams, the son of former THS assistant Johnathan Williams. “I always wanted to play in this tournament, start in this tournament and win this tournament. And I did all that.”
The Bulldogs are now 6-3, with games against Central Valley, Lincoln and Merced before the prestigious Holiday Hoop Classic, which features some of the top teams in Northern California and gets underway on Dec. 27. Turlock will open with Campolindo (Moraga), ranked 13th in the state by MaxPreps.com among Division II teams.
In the meantime, Ladine just wants the Bulldogs to keep getting better.
“Every game, every practice, our team chemistry is really building,” he said.