SALIDA — There's an impressive array of basketball jerseys on display in the foyer of the Modesto Christian High School gym.
Hayes, Midgley, Nelson, Seeley, Oliver and Porter, are only a few of the names sewn on the back of jerseys from colleges such as Kentucky, California, Washington and UCLA, plus the NBA's Houston Rockets.
To fans attending Crusaders' games, they serve as a makeshift MC Hall of Fame, representing the success of the program since 1996.
But imagine you're a freshman, freshly enrolled at Modesto Christian with a desire to play basketball.
You look up and suddenly realize those are some pretty big jerseys to fill.
"It puts a little bit of pressure on us, especially when we come in here as freshmen," said senior Raymond Bowles, a repeat selection as The Bee's Stanislaus District Player of the Year.
He's also earned a spot on that wall. In the fall Bowles will be enrolling at the University of the Pacific, joining teammate T.J. Wallace on a Tigers' team in transition. UOP will be entering the West Coast Conference under a yet-to-be-named coach.
There is a lot of the unknown around the short trip to Stockton, not unlike, again, what Bowles felt as a freshman. Being from Tracy, all he knew of the program was its reputation.
"I saw how successful some of the players were coming out of MC and I felt that just by all the tradition and seeing how good the team was that it would help me get to where I wanted to be in a Division I college," Bowles said.
"It definitely has helped me and I'm glad I made the decision to come here. I don't know if I would have had the same opportunity had I stayed and gone to high school in Tracy."
Bowles played summer ball with the Crusaders prior to his freshman year and impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a starting spot on the varsity, a feat that puts him in select company.
While several former Crusaders have played at the varsity level for four years, Bowles is only the fourth to be a four-year starter, joining Michael Porter (Kentucky,) Adrian Oliver (Washington and San Jose State) and Reeves Nelson (UCLA.)
Two players on the current team, sophomore Anthony Townes and freshman Christian Ellis, will have a chance to join that elite club.
"Every freshman we've brought up and started has gone on to play at a Division I college," Porter said. "We tell them that when they come in and we've told Christian that.
"It's not guaranteed, it's just a matter of us thinking they're good enough at that age so that if they keep working they could have their jersey up there."
The four years Bowles has spent at MC haven't all been glitz and glory. In fact, it's almost been a time of rebuilding for a program that traditionally has only needed to reload.
As a freshman, playing with teammates fresh off a state football bowl game victory, Bowles' introduction to the Crusaders was going winless in four games in the MC Holiday Hoop Tourney before going on to win the program's 11th straight section title.
His sophomore season snapped that streak, as MC lost in the section semifinals, then in the first round of the NorCals.
Bowles emerged as a quiet leader as a junior, leading the Crusaders back into the section winners' circle, then teamed with fellow seniors T.J. Wallace and Zerrion Payton to lead this year's squad into the inaugural NorCal Open Division semifinals.
In the process, Bowles played in 122 games for the Crusaders, scoring 1,684 points. This season he averaged 16.2 points per game. Those numbers could have been much higher, but in many games over the four seasons especially in Trans-Valley League play Bowles played sparingly in the fourth quarter.
"A lot of kids come here for that pressure and for the dream to go play in college," said coach Richard Midgley. "As coaches it's our jobs to help them fulfill that dream. We try to put the hardest schedule together that we can to challenge them and they get challenged every day in practice."
As the years have gone by, the arrangement of framed jerseys has grown to the point where it must expand. Porter has jerseys stored away that have yet to be framed, and Chuck Hayes despite being a frequent visitor has yet to present a Sacramento Kings' jersey for the display.
But by the end of the year, expect at least two more jerseys to be up on that wall, both in Pacific orange and black.
More jerseys equal more pressure on every kid willing to make the commitment necessary to play basketball for Modesto Christian.
"I think I've overcome that feeling of pressure and in these four years I've done a good job, first of playing my part for two years, then in the last two I've been more of a leader," Bowles said. "I felt that by doing that I earned a spot in the program."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek
RAYMOND BOWLES' VARSITY CAREER AT MODESTO CHRISTIAN
Season Games Team Record Points Average
2009-10 29 24-9 194 6.7
2010-11 28 25-6 359 12.8
2011-12 32 28-6 596 18.6
2012-13 33 29-4 535 16.2
Totals 122 106-25 1,684 13.8
THE BEE'S 2012-13 ALL-DISTRICT BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year Year Pos. Ht. Notes
Raymond Bowles, Modesto Christian Senior F 6-5 Four-year starter is the glue of the Crusader machine.
First Team (all schools)
John Fenton, Central Catholic Senior C 6-9 It's been a blast watching development of Colgate-bound post.
Joe Marquez, Buhach Colony Senior G 6-1 CCC scorer averaged 25 ppg in final 3 weeks of season
Guillermo Nunez, Sierra Senior G 6-1 Area's top scoring guard was VOL's best player.
Anthony Townes, Modesto Christian Soph. C 6-6 Added strong defense to his impressive arsenal this season.
T.J. Wallace, Modesto Christian Senior G 6-4 Finger injury hampered shooting of area's strongest guard
Second Team Large (Div. 1-2-3)
Christian Carroll, Golden Valley Junior G 6-2 Stronger than he looks with unmatched energy on court
Ben Peterson, Atwater Junior C 6-5 CCC's best pure post player
Keegan Sanchez, Patterson Senior G 6-3 Versatile and comfortable at both point and shooting guard
Joshua Sykes, Golden Valley Junior F 6-6 All-around instincts made Sykes the CCC's MVP.
Dom Wash, Gregori Senior G 5-11 MMC's MVP brought toughness to the Jaguars
Second Team Small (Div. 4-5-6)
Rolaun Dunham, Riverbank Junior G 6-1 Explosive player with skills both inside and outside
Cole Herrin, Ripon Senior G 6-0 Energizer Bunny did it all against the Indians' tough schedule
Jesse Roberson, Summerville Senior F 6-6 Did it all for D4 champs, including making teammates better
Blake Terry, Waterford Senior G 6-3 Southern League's most skilled player couldn't be stopped
Alec Von Alvensleben, Escalon Senior G 6-0 TVL's top scorer also lead Cougars in assists
Coach of the Year
Ben Watson, Summerville Section D4 champions were a true band of brothers
BOYS' 2012-13 STANISLAUS DISTRICT ALL-LEAGUE TEAMS
(selected and reported by coaches)
MODESTO METRO CONFERENCE
Most Valuable Player Ashur Athneil, Johansen
First Team Anthony Galloway, Beyer; Blake Houser, Downey; Adam Khattak. Modesto; Curtis Porter, Enochs; Dom Wash, Gregori.
Second Team Tre McClellan and Todd Stewart, Gregori; Pablo Ochoa, Johansen; Julian Orozco, Beyer; Tre Somers, Davis.
Co-Coach of the Year Allen Davis, Gregori and Mike Vander Molen, Gregori.
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE Most Valuable Player Joshua Sykes, Golden Valley
First Team Dashawn Holcombe, Turlock; Evan Stillahn and Christian Carroll, Golden Valley; Joe Marquez and Roger Klauser, Buhach Colony; Ben Peterson, Atwater, Travante Richard, Merced.
Second Team Stephen Hillyer, Buhach Colony; Dusty Nunes, Golden Valley; Branson Garcia, Pitman; Devin Bains and Kenny Frazier, Turlock; Daniel Motz, Atwater; Johnathon Chairez, Merced.
Coach Of The Year Keith Hunter, Golden Valley
VALLEY OAK LEAGUE Co-Most Valuable Player Dylan Alexander, Weston Ranch and Guillermo Nunez, Sierra.
First Team Jake Danhoff, East Union; Eric Duncan and Daiveon Leverett, Weston Ranch; Eric Melgar, Sierra; Austin Haro, Manteca.
Second Team Jordon Kron, East Union; Robert Orantes, Lathrop; Ben Bates, Sonora; Emmanuel Elijah, Sierra; Devante Baisa, Kimball.
Coach of the Year Scott Thomason, Sierra.
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Most Valuable Player John Fenton, Central Catholic
First Team Jordan Levu and Keegan Sanchez, Patterson; Ryan Donnelly, Central Valley; James Pernetti, Ceres; Donovin Townsend, Central Catholic.
Second Team Cariaun Williams, Patterson; Brian Perez, Livingston; Joe Hamilton and Jake Bland, Central Catholic; Daniel Marquez, Pacheco.
Coach of the Year Mike Wilson, Central Catholic.
TRANS-VALLEY LEAGUEMost Outstanding Player Rolaun Dunham, Riverbank
Most Valuable Player Raymond Bowles, Modesto Christian
First Team Alec VonAlvensleben and Brian Gregorio, Escalon; Kenny Veliz and Markus Benson, Riverbank; Cole Herrin and Chase DePrue, Ripon; Jorge Ayala, Hughson; T.J. Wallace, Anthony Townes and Zerrion Payton, Modesto Christian
Coach of the Year Jeff Jennings, Riverbank
Coach of the Year Ron Vander Molen, Ripon Christian
SOUTHERN LEAGUE Most Valuable Player Dan Vos, Ripon Christian.
First Team Jon Vander Molen, Ripon Christian; Blake Terry and Branson Angle, Waterford; Sam Tucker, Mariposa; Mauricio Contreras, Le Grand; Kameron Vogt, Turlock Christian.
Second Team Travis Vander Molen and Clayton Blankers, Ripon Christian; J.T. Lettman, Mariposa; Nick Hernandez and Ivan Perez, Delhi; Ryan Martinez, Le Grand.
Coach of the Year Ron Vander Molen, Ripon Christian.