A 5-foot-9-inch senior forward playing her third varsity season, Samantha Bertomen averaged 18 points and five rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to the championship of the Community Spirit Tournament, hosted by Turlock and Pitman.
"In the first two games, she got in foul trouble but still managed to score and be aggressive attacking the basket," coach Salinda Mabie said. "We have really emphasized to her to attack the basket with force when teams zone us and to cut hard and anticipate the pass."
Bertomen scored 23 in the final, including nine in the decisive third quarter of the 42-34 win over McNair.
"Bert is a key player in our program," Mabie said. "We knew we were grooming her for leadership when we brought her up as a sophomore. She is very versatile. I believe players need to be versatile and be able to hit the 3 as well as post up or take the ball to the hole."
There's no excuse for Booker Hinton and his teammates not to be in sync: Many have played summer basketball together since they were 11 or 12 years old.
"The experience we've gained by spending so much time together, not just on the court but at each other's homes and going out, that makes us a stronger team," said Hinton, a 6-foot-2-inch senior guard. "We've played a bunch of games each summer as the Modesto Heat, an AAU team that plays in tournaments."
Teamwork played a role as the Knights claimed the Robert Dominik Fuchs Memorial Holiday Classic at Columbia College, capped by a 44-42 upset of Sierra. Hinton averaged 14 points and made all-tournament.
"Li'l Joe (Hardee), Big Joe (Napoleon), Nick (O'Brien), Brett (Butler) and I are all good friends," Hinton said. "We run a passing game on offense, so it helps that we're so familiar with the way that we all play."
Turlock Christian basketball
Erin Santiago and her teammates didn't know much about the competition heading into the West Coast Jamboree, a 96-team Bay Area tournament that divides teams into divisions based on their level of skill. The Eagles were in the Garnet Division with other small private and public schools and won the title, beating Sonoma Academy 46-30.
Santiago, a 5-foot-7-inch junior, scored 70 points, hit 11 3-pointers and handed out 13 assists in three wins. She also defended the opponent's top player each night and allowed 21 total points.
"It is difficult to prepare for teams you know nothing about, so we set a goal (to hold) the opponent to less than 10 points per quarter and to have us score at least 10 each quarter," coach Edwin Santiago said. "By doing this, we get to focus more on the little things necessary to accomplish our biggest goal of winning the game."
The Huskies slew a giant on their way to the title of the 38th Oakdale Rotary Holiday Classic, stunning Davis 73-62 in the semifinal with Kenny Sullivan scoring 16 points. He had seven points and played a key defensive role in a 45-40 upset of Patterson in the final and was named all-tournament.
"It felt good beating a big school like Davis because we felt they were a really good team," said Sullivan, who scored 21 in a 67-48 quarterfinal win over Oakdale. "Patterson was very good defensively and applied a lot of pressure. It felt better beating them because we won the championship and proved to ourselves that we can compete with a tough, physical team and stay focused on winning."
The performance surprised some, but not Sullivan.
"We have the athletic ability to get out and run, but our coaches work with us on offensive sets in the half court and push us hard to play tough team defense," he said.