It doesn’t take much to get Anthony Townes going – some gentle words of encouragement will do the trick.
The Modesto Christian senior made just 1 of 7 shot attempts in the first half of a 79-47 win over No. 10 seed Elk Grove on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinal.
Townes, who will attend University of the Pacific on a basketball scholarship in the fall, entered the locker room at halftime a frustrated young man.
“We were getting touches where we wanted them,” said coach Richard Midgley, whose second-seeded Crusaders improved to 26-3. “We just weren’t finishing. Anthony was 1 of 7 in the first half. I don’t know what he was in the second half, but he didn’t miss much.”
Townes missed his first attempt of the second half, then hit seven shots in a row. He can thank his teammates for the halftime affirmation.
“I was just rushing at the beginning of the game,” said Townes, who erupted for 15 of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter. “My coaches and teammates told me at halftime, ‘Anthony, you’re a captain, lead us. Do what you’ve got to do.’ ”
Up 31-22 at the break, Townes missed the attempt to open the third quarter and it looked like Modesto Christian was in for more of the same.
“We just told him to focus and take a little extra time with his shots,” said Midgley.
Over the course of the next three minutes, Townes would pour in five field goals, all from inside the paint. With 3:52 to play in the third, the 6-foot-6 power forward hit a turnaround jumper along the baseline for his first points off the block, then hit 1 of 2 free throws with 3:37 remaining in the third. That gave him 13 points in a span of just under four minutes. His final basket of the quarter came on a putback with 36 ticks left.
But it wasn’t just Townes. Jeff Wu (12 points), who will attend Sacramento State in the fall on scholarship, hit two three-pointers in addition to two fast-break layups.
To cap his evening, he threw down a rim-rattling dunk on the fast break early in the fourth quarter.
Most of Townes’ buckets were set up by guard Christian Ellis.
“My whole perspective, even if Anthony can’t make a layup, is to get him the ball,” said Ellis. “I’ll keep feeding him no matter what. But when he gets going like that, there’s no question, I’ll get it to him every single time, especially when he’s on the block with a one-on-one matchup.”
What are teams to do supposed to do, double up on Townes? That merely leaves 6-9 junior Robinson Idehen (18 points) in a one-on-one matchup against his defender.
“Anthony and Robin create a tough matchup for everybody,” said Midgely.
Everybody will soon include No. 3 St. Mary’s (Stockton), a 68-62 winner over No. 6 Antelope. The teams square off Wednesday at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena. No. 4 Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove) takes on top seed Sacramento in the other semifinal.
Tip-off times have yet to be determined, though it was announced that Modesto Christian’s girls team, seeded No. 1, will take on No. 4 Del Oro at 4 p.m. Tuesday at UOP.
By reaching the semifinal round, Modesto Christian’s boys and girls assured themselves of a berth in the Northern California Regional tournament.