Gary Williams was the top player on Oakland's top team in December: The 6-foot-4 junior was getting 17 points and eight rebounds a night for legendary power McClymonds.
He led the Warriors over St. Mary's of Albany, Fairfax of Los Angeles and Jesuit of Carmichael -- all state-ranked at the time -- and improved each time he took the floor.
Williams then disappeared from the court after a dispute with his coach. He came back last week, just in time for McClymonds' semifinal game in the Oakland Section playoffs.
Only thing is, Williams was wearing a different uniform: He collected 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals and five assists to lead rival Castlemont past McClymonds 68-53.
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His transfer was approved two days before the game -- a week ago today -- and shifted the balance of power in Oakland as well as for this week's Northern California playoffs.
Turlock (24-6) faces the new-look Knights (16-12) in a NorCal Division 1 game tonight. Turlock is one of seven Stanislaus District teams playing tonight, but has the most interesting story line considering the soap opera at Castlemont.
While late-season transfers are rare, players retain eligibility if the school they left is still playing. If McClymonds' season had ended, Williams would have been ineligible.
Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot doesn't think the drama will affect his team, but Williams' ability will be a factor.
He gives Castlemont two 6-4 forwards capable of dominating -- John Green has at least 22 points in nine of the last 10 games. Like Williams, he is a leaper who is also very quick.
The Knights also come with attitude: Security officers intervened twice last week during Castlemont's game when the on-court action got tense. One involved a hard foul under the hoop, the other was a player jeering the opponent's bench and fans after a score.
Turlock plays a disciplined game built around 6-4 guard Travis Souza (21 ppg) and 6-4 forward Eric Wetzel (15 ppg). It beat Rodriguez and lost by four to Franklin, teams using up-tempo play similar to Castlemont, while reaching the section semifinals last week.
No one else in the district is facing such drama, but everyone faces the same pressure: The next loss ends the season.
It's nothing new for Modesto Christian's boys, regulars in the regional playoffs after winning 11 straight section titles. The Crusaders received a nice draw in hosting Orland (20-9) -- the last team to make the 14-team D-4 tournament.
An MC win means a doubleheader Thursday: The girls won last year's NorCal crown and, as the No. 2 seed, earned a first-round bye this season.
If the boys win tonight, they will likely face No. 6 Palma of Salinas (23-4). A second win would almost certainly put them on the road to face No. 2 Salesian (30-2), while the girls wouldn't travel until the regional final -- scheduled for March 20 at Folsom High.