SALIDA — Turlock High spent the first two days of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic looking for players willing to take some of the scoring load off senior center Kenny Fraser.
On Saturday morning, the line of able and eager Bulldogs extended all the way to the end of their bench.
Eight different Turlock players scored in the opening seven minutes and the Bulldogs rolled to a 19-0 lead before cruising to a 56-44 victory over Ripon in the third round of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.
Turlock (9-3) will meet Weston Ranch (4-6) for 13th place Monday at 11 a.m., with Ripon (1-11) taking on Gregori (6-6) for 15th place in the 9:30 tip-off that opens the final day of action in this 14th annual event.
“We talked about playing with a chip on our shoulder and we came out and hit shots early,” said Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot. “That seemed to get everybody going. We were looking for guys to step up and contribute on offense and guys came off the bench looking to fire it up.”
The Indians didn’t score until senior Chase DePrue hit a layup after a steal with 22 seconds left in the first quarter, but Turlock wasn’t done building the lead. Three different players hit 3-pointers to open the second quarter to extend the margin to 28-2 before the Indians finally found their game legs.
“Our goal in this tournament is to compete every game,” said Ripon coach Rod Wright. “We’re not a good shooting team yet, but we started hitting some shots once we relaxed.”
The Indians closed the game on a 15-2 run over the final 5:32 to make the final score appear somewhat close, but Cornfoot took full advantage of the opportunity to let his reserves log significant minutes. Fraser finished with 12 points for the Bulldogs, who got scoring from 12 different players.
“It was good to see guys who haven't played a lot early come in and contribute,” he said. “They’ve been working hard this season and they were playing like they were trying to earn more playing time.”
Ripon, which got 13 points from freshman Cole Stevens, is playing in its 13th straight Holiday Hoop Classic – only host MC has appeared in them all – and despite being a regular in the event’s breakfast club the past few seasons Wright has no plans to pull out of the event.
“In all the years we'’e been in this tournament, this was our toughest draw, coupled with our least amount of talent,” Wright said. “Everybody’s been either Division 1 or very good. We’ll definitely be back here. I’ll take all the grief in the world, but I’m staying in this tournament.”
• WESTON RANCH 68, GREGORI 65 – The Cougars hit 11 of 13 free throws in the final 5:30 to clinch the victory, but the game was won because Weston Ranch’s press was able to dictate the pace of the game.
Not only did the press produce turnovers and quick scores, but when the Jaguars managed to break the trap they weren’t able to slow the pace enough to complement their preferred half-court offense.
“We did a decent job in the first half of attacking it and scoring on it, but in the second half, once we broke it we started going half-speed across halfcourt,” said Gregori coach Mike Vander Molen. “We got rattled. They got us into what they wanted. They sped the game up and didn’t allow us to get the ball inside in the halfcourt.
“I like to score against the press, because that should force teams to take it off. But we took some quick bad shots against the press.”
Still, the game was tight throughout, and there were seven ties in the final six minutes. The last came at 63-63 with 45 seconds remaining, when Tyler Janitz hit two free throws for the Jags.
But sophomore Erron Duncan answered with two free throws at the other end, and when Gregori missed two chances at the line with 16 seconds left, Weston Ranch took control of the outcome. But really, the Cougars’ press had decided the issue much earlier.
“We press because we just need more possessions in the game,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan, who played for Vander Molen at Beyer. “We’re not big enough inside to pound it down low, so we need to score in transition and the more possessions the better the chance we have to score.”
Sophomores Jaelen Ragsdale and Jerrico Gonzales led Weston Ranch with 21 and 15 points. Tre McClellan got inside for 20 points and sophomore Alex Badillo added 19 for the Jags.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2150. Follow him on Twitter @modestobeek.