By the time the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic is finished Saturday, Turlock High will have played more than half its regular season schedule.
To be precise, the Bulldogs will have played 16 games in a span of 35 days, or an NBA pace that leaves them with scant time to practice or more important to find its real identity as a team.
Turlock's persona so far in this tournament is that of a team that struggles to score. Its 54-38 loss to Centennial on Thursday followed a 36-point opening-round output.
"We had 10 games in two weeks heading into the Christmas vacation, then we had this tournament," said Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot. "We haven't had a lot of practices. That could be part of it."
The Bulldogs, and every other Central California Conference school, have had to deal with a front-loaded schedule. The CCC switched from a triple round-robin format with 15 league games to a 10-game, double-round robin schedule.
It forced all teams to find five extra non-league games. Turlock (8-6) filled the void by adding the 16-team Modesto City Tournament to its early schedule.
"Going from a triple round-robin to a double means we've had a lot of early games without a lot of practice between," Cornfoot said.
They will get a break from live action and ample time to practice soon. After Saturday, Turlock plays just once over the following two weeks before opening CCC play Jan. 9 at Golden Valley.
"We have the players to contend in our league, but we have to find the consistency. We have times when players are moving and cutting and getting good looks and times when guys are standing around."
Such things can be addressed in practice. But the Bulldogs also seem to be lacking enthusiasm, which is difficult to find in close-gym sessions.
"We still have some learning to do and we still need to come together as a team," Cornfoot said.
"That includes getting energy from the bench. No one's getting excited. It's hard for the players to understand how much enthusiasm breeds runs. When you get everybody up, cheering and having a good time, then next thing you know you're on a big run."
Against Centennial, the lack of scoring runs wasn't a problem as much as the lack of any scoring at all.
When Kenny Fraser hit a short baseline jumper with 5:05 left in the first quarter, Turlock led 10-8. The Bulldogs would not get another field goal until Dashawn Holcombe his a 3-pointer with 3:32 left in the half.
Following that bomb, Turlock would not score from the field again until Fraser canned a 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the third quarter. In all, the Bulldogs went 19:43 of clock time with but a single field goal. Fraser and Holcombe finished with 10 points each.
"We challenge the kids," Cornfoot said. "We call time out and tell them it's time to get nasty, and then they go out and hit some shots and get back in the game. But we need that intensity for four quarters, not just when it's starting to get out of control."
CHAVEZ 67, RIPON 46 The Indians had very little chance against a faster, more athletic and much deeper Titans team. Chavez (7-6) went to its bench early and often to lead wire-to-wire, and while Ripon (2-8) stayed scrappy to the end, it couldn't keep up physically. Terrell Nelson led Chavez with 12 points, while Cole Herrin had 13 for the Indians.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or email@example.com