Nelson scores 53 to help Modesto Christian boys reach D-IV final

SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS

February 28, 2008 

LODI — Playoff fever has finally arrived at Modesto Christian High and 6-foot-7-inch junior forward Reeves Nelson is clearly ready for what will be coming.

After running its first two playoff foes out of the gym, the Crusaders ran into a team willing to play their urban-style game — both the balling and bravado.

“We knew they’d come out and run with us and shoot 3s, and we were excited,” Nelson said. “It’s the playoffs now and everything is getting a little more intense.”

No one could match Nelson’s intensity, as he scored a playoff-record 53 points to lead MC past Encina 122-100 in a Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal at Tokay High.

The previous record of 52 was set by Elk Grove’s C.J. Morgan in 2005 against Modesto. MC and Encina also combined for a playoff-record 222 points — obliterating the previous mark of 193.

The section for points in a game is 129, set by MC last year.

“His shooting, his dunking, his rebounding, the guy does it all,” said Encina’s Derreq Knaules, a 5-11 guard who scored a career-high 44. “We weren’t going to be intimidated by him, though. He was going to have to earn it all.”

Reeves put his personal stamp on this game in the third period.

With MC up by 20 points, Nelson broke from the pack and went up to slam. Knaules, though, rose up and tipped the ball from behind.

Moments later, Nelson was in the open again. Knaules didn’t try for a block this time, instead slamming his body into Nelson as he was up in the air.

He crashed to the ground with a thud — but bounced up just as quickly and thumped his chest against Knaules in a bit of bravado common for the playground.

It earned Nelson a technical, but it also earned him respect — and showed the fiery side of a player whose playful personality has been misconstrued as lethargic.

“It should have been an intentional foul, the way he went into Reeves,” said coach Gary Porter, whose UCLA-committed star scored 30 in the first half to help MC to a 60-40 halftime lead. “It was an emotional moment and he got right into the guy. I understood why he got a technical.

“He has emotion, it’s just that he isn’t the type of player who goes out to do that every time.”

While Nelson kept the crowd entertained with his dunks, 3-pointers and open-court dribbling, guard D.J. Seeley celebrated a homecoming of sorts.

Seeley, who played at Tokay as a junior and led the section in scoring at 25 points a game, pumped in 30 points as the Crusaders’ top two players combined for 83.

MC’s next challenge comes Saturday, when the No. 2 Crusaders (25-4) face top-seeded Colfax (26-2) for the section title at 3:30 p.m., at Arco Arena.

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