World War II darkened the horizon in 1938. Ernest and Julio Gallo's winery was only 5 years old. Modesto wasn't much larger than a stop on the Southern Pacific tracks.
But something special happened in Modesto that year the start of its longest-running sports event.
The 75th Modesto Junior College Basketball Tournament, born the same year as the National Invitation Tournament, celebrates a milestone anniversary with its trademark 16-team competition today through Saturday.
Only Modesto and Riverside, the latter event also staged this week, hold 16-team tournaments in California. Both appeared to be in jeopardy this year but they survived.
State officials voted against a cost-cutting proposal last spring that would have scuttled the mega-tournaments. If approved, the measure would have forced coaches who are allotted 28 contacts (games) per regular season to count each contact on a game-for-game basis.
The new rule would have forced coaches to use four contacts, rather than the usual two, for large tournaments such as Modesto's. Thankfully for the Pirates, that legislation did not pass.
Once again teams will come to Modesto to play as many as four games. It's a workout and, more important for teams in the early season, the first major barometer before league play.
Fresno, the reigning state champion, won its record 10th MJC title last year. The Rams, Modesto champions in five of the last six tournaments, rampage over the field with a relentless pace and a deep bench.
"Fresno is hard to beat in tournaments because of their depth," MJC coach Paul Brogan said. "By the fourth game, your players are worn down."
Modesto made a stirring run into the finals last year but fell victim to Fresno 98-71. The Pirates, who have not won their own tournament since 1945, were denied by the Rams in the 2011, '06 and '99 title games.
No matter. After the off-season scare, the Pirates are pleased their tournament held intact. A full 16 community college teams from throughout California would have filled the bracket if not for a pullback of one school in October.
That necessitated the addition of the Simpson University junior varsity, MJC's first-round opponent tonight at 6.
The biggest pre-tournament surprise is that Fresno is not favored. Top-ranked and unbeaten City College of San Francisco, which owns two wins over the Rams, is the team to watch. The two heavyweights occupy opposite ends of the bracket.
Brogan addressed several issues with the bracket. All the far-traveling teams won't tip off until Wednesday in another budget-friendly move.
Also grouped in Wednesday's first round is Chabot coach Denny Aye and his two coaching sons Devin at Lassen and Tyson at Imperial Valley. Aye coached the Columbia Claim Jumpers to the 1993 state title while his sons served as ballboys.
Yes, we could see father-son matchups as early as Thursday.
"Denny asked me not to have (them) play against each other in the first round," Brogan said.
CCSF (7-0) vs. MERCED (0-7), 2 p.m. San Francisco, ranked 1st in state, jumped to top of rankings with its two wins over Fresno. Rams edged Yuba, a potential 2nd-round opponent here, 72-71. Key players: 6-7 G Shawn Smith 13.6 ppg., 6-4 F Chuks Iroegbu 11.4 ppg. 6-5 G Delon Wright was MVP of CCSF tournament.
Merced extended Cosumnes River before falling 77-74 last weekend. 6-3 G Carlos Smith 11.3 ppg., 6-4 F James Waters 11.6 ppg.
COSUMNES RIVER (4-2) vs. YUBA (2-3), 4 Cosumnes River won its tournament last weekend but lost earlier to Mendocino. 6-5 G Charles Standifer 25.5 ppg. and MVP of Cosumnes tournament. 6-3 G Justin Barrels 11.7 ppg. and 6-5 Miguel French both all-tourney.
Yuba, 2012 state-runner-up, reached MJC semifinals last year. The 49ers lost by only 72-71 to CCSF on Nov. 10. 6-1 G Achoki Moikobu 16 ppg., 6-4 G Chris Smith 13 ppg.
SIMPSON JV vs. MODESTO (4-2), 6 Simpson JV, an October replacement, lost to Mendocino 100-62 in season opener.
Modesto, ranked 14th in NorCal, took 3rd last weekend at Cosumnes River. Placed 2nd at Mendocino but lost to Eagles 76-71 in final. Pirates have beaten Los Medanos 88-55. 6-5 F Brenden Evans 17 ppg. and 7 rb. 6-7 F Tashawn Mabry 17.3 ppg., 6-1 G Mike Hill 17.7 ppg. Evans was Cosumnes River all-tournament choice. Pirates took third.
REEDLEY (2-1) vs. LOS MEDANOS (5-1), 8 Reedley opened with tight wins over Skyline and San Diego Mesa and a 79-55 loss last weekend to Marin. 5-9 G Dupree Hull 21 ppg., 6-1 G Derek Walters 13.5 ppg.
Los Medanos has won 4 straight, including a win last weekend over West Valley, since loss to MJC on Nov. 16.
SACRAMENTO (3-2) vs. CHABOT (4-3), 2 p.m. Sacramento lost to Yuba 93-79. 6-4 G Ryan Mastella 19.7 ppg. and 14 of 35 3s, 6-3 G Patrick Lowman 13.7 ppg. Panthers were MJC consolation champion in 2011.
Chabot went 1-2 last weekend at Cosumnes River. 5-10 G Greg Brown 11.8 ppg., and 6-3 G Damarius Jones 11.6 ppg. and 11 of 36 3s.
LASSEN (5-3) vs. MENDOCINO (4-1), 4 Lassen, ranked 12th in NorCal, was beaten by CCSF 91-73. 6-1 G Sammy Allen Jr. 13.2 ppg., 6-2 G Devin Bey 13 ppg., 6-2 F Lawrence Melton 10.2 ppg., 6-2 G Lee Strong 12 ppg. and 12 of 39 3s.
Mendocino won 4 straight before falling to Sierra. Eagles own wins over Modesto and Cosumnes River. 6-4 G Kevin Charles, 5-10 G Errion James and 5-11 G Cesar Mendoza.
CHAFFEY (4-3) vs. FRESNO (7-2), 6 Chaffey, ranked 15th in state and 8th in SoCal, lost 3 straight after winning first 4. Averages nearly 90 ppg. Justin Long 12.2 ppg. and 15 of 27 3s, 5-11 G Sango Niang 14.5 ppg., 6-2 G Kenny Morgan 11.5 ppg. (Morgan was MVP of Fullerton tournament).
Fresno, defending state and MJC tournament champion, is ranked 3rd in state. Rams lost to CCSF 83-65 and, 7 days later, 82-73. 6-3 G Alex Perez 14.6 ppg., 6-6 F Udun Osakue 10.9 ppg. and 6 rb. Osakue and 6-4 G Chris Ashanti made all-tournament at CCSF.
IMPERIAL VALLEY (3-5) vs. CUESTA (6-3), 8 Quick rematch after Cuesta's 76-72 come-from-behind win for third place Sunday at Grossmont tournament. Cuesta 6-4 G Oscar Pedroso had 25 points Sunday vs. 26 points by Imperial Valley's 6-4 G Jumah Sutton. IVC features 6-4 F LaSalle Wright with 14.5 ppg. and 6 rb. and 6-7 F Cordaryus Craigen with 11.1 ppg.
Cuesta, ranked 15th in SoCal, split with Sequoias and has beaten West Hills and Porterville. 6-4 F Plamen Hristov (Bulgaria) 13.4 ppg. and 22 of 49 3s, Pedroso 11.2 ppg., 6-0 G Kenny Robinson 10.4 ppg.
1993 Long Beach
1992 Long Beach
1990 Long Beach
1989 Santa Rosa
1983 Long Beach
1981 Santa Ana
1979 Santa Ana
1978 Los Medanos
1977 Los Angeles SW
1976 Santa Rosa
1972 Allan Hancock
1971 Long Beach
1970 Long Beach
1969 Long Beach
1966 San Francisco
1963 Delta (a)
1963 San Mateo (b)
1962 San Mateo
1961 Los Angeles
1960 Allan Hancock
1959 San Jose
1958 San Francisco
1957 Allan Hancock
1956 Los Angeles
1954 Long Beach
1953 Los Angeles
1949 San Francisco
1948 San Mateo
1947 San Francisco
1942 Long Beach
1940 Los Angeles