College Sports

Local Digest: MJC men’s hoops in adjustment period, Gregori hires new football coach

Modesto coach Mike Girardi talks with his team during a timeout during the game with Columbia at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Columbia won the game 72-71.
Modesto coach Mike Girardi talks with his team during a timeout during the game with Columbia at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Columbia won the game 72-71. aalfaro@modbee.com

After a 20-9 record and a berth in the state playoffs last year, Modesto Junior College men’s basketball is off to a tough start in 2018.

“Our top eight players were sophomores and they all graduated,” Pirates coach Mike Girardi said. “We only have one returning player (sophomore forward Benny Simi) from that team. It’s a brand new team this year.”

The Pirates dropped to 2-7 on the season with a 100-85 loss to Folsom Lake in the 81st Annual MJC Basketball Tourney on Saturday.

“Right now, our main focus is we are giving too many points,” Girardi said. “We are scoring points, averaging close to 80 points but we are giving up 88 per game.”

The Pirates trailed 47-37 at halftime but led 69-68 with 10 minutes remaining before the Falcons took control with a lot of fast-break points and 3-pointers to end the game.

“(Sophomore guard Matt Lyon) started making everything and we felt like we had to go man-to-man,” Girardi said. “We have been playing zone defense real well and it’s been our better defense lately.”

Lyon finished with 30 points.

Freshman forward Isaiah Harris had 34 points for MJC while Simi had 19, 15 of which came in the first half as he struggled with foul trouble in the second half before fouling out with a little over six minutes left.

The Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak with a 70-60 win over Ohlone on Friday. The 60 points allowed were the fewest they have allowed all season.

“Yesterday we took a step forward,” Girardi said. “Today we took a step back. We have things to work on.”

MJC has three more non-conference games before opening Big 8 Conference play at San Joaquin Delta on Dec. 28.

Gregori tabs Lamar Wallace as new football coach

Lamar Wallace, who has coached as an assistant at Gregori since the school’s inaugural season in 2011, is the new head coach, Front Row Preps reported late Friday night.

Wallace takes over for Jason McCoy, who stepped down after seven seasons to spend more time with his family.

“I was on the original staff here at Gregori High, so I’m a Jaguar through and through,” Wallace told James Burns of Front Row Preps. “I was a part of the staff with coach McCoy and it was a great experience. ... I’ve learned a lot with McCoy and in my time at Davis.”

Gregori returns its starting quarterback (junior Baker Melendez) and top running backs (junior Isaac Herman and Titus Rhiney) next year.

Wallace is a business education teacher at Gregori.

Modesto Christian boys basketball splits in Arizona

After a tough loss to Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.), 79-63 on Friday, Modesto Christian beat Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) 70-47 at the HoopHall West Classic at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday.

“We just played with a lot more energy (today),” Crusaders coach Brice Fantazia said via text message. “Obviously, losing to the No. 18 team in the nation (Gonzaga Prep’s MaxPreps ranking) is nothing to be ashamed of but the boys came out trying to prove something today.”

Senior forward Aaron Murphy, who was forced to leave Friday’s game with an ankle injury, returned Saturday and had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He was named MVP of the game.

Senior guard Earv Knox had 10 assists and freshman guard Devin Day made four 3-pointers.

Modesto Christian will next play Edison in the Clovis West Nike Invitational on Wednesday.

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