Having a player get hurt and getting beaten by one of the best teams in the state was not the way the Columbia College men's basketball team wanted to start out at the 70th Annual Modesto Junior College Tournament.
Columbia lost forward Fabian Lopez of Oakdale to a major knee injury before falling to Delta 67-46 on Thursday. Columbia coach Nate Rien said team trainers suspect a torn meniscus, which would sideline Lopez for the year.
The Claim Jumpers (3-8) already lost shooting guard Marcus Giles to a torn groin. They carry on today at 2 p.m. against Siskiyous.
Lavar Neufville led Delta (12-0) with 18 points. Columbia's Raymond Baca came off the bench to score all 16 of his points in the second half.
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Rien was pleased with Columbia's defense, particularly its ability to contain Mustang leaders Roman Van Allen (6 points) and Aaron Wilson (9 points). Wilson averaged 17 points entering the tournament.
"We chose to take away their two best players and I think we did a good job of that," Rein said. "We changed our offense at halftime completely. We played more power basketball and we were a lot better at that."
FRESNO 80, CHABOT 71 -- The Rams (12-1) won their 10th consecutive game behind Brian Minor's 19 points. Derieck Mosbey led all scorers with 23 points to lead the Gladiators. Chabot plays Modesto today at 4 p.m.
WEST HILLS 71, SISKIYOUS 67 -- Matt Washington led the Falcons with 14 points. German Madueno scored 11 points and three others had 10 each for Siskiyous. West Hills will play Delta today at 6 p.m.
TIP-INS -- The inside cover of the tournament program featured a picture of Modesto JC guard Mo Alaniz and personal messages from his teammates. Alaniz was involved in a head-on auto accident last month and remains in critical condition. ... If Fresno makes it to the championship game, it would tie Modesto and Cerritos for third-most title game appearances (11). Long Beach leads with 14.
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.