Brice Fantazia has been battling a cold, and the hysteria created in a win over Campolindo, chased the Modesto Christian coach back into the locker room with a throbbing migraine.
Dathan Satchell’s feathery shot offered a soft place to land.
Satchell knocked down five 3-pointers and completed a 78-71 win with a right-handed runner with less than a minute left, advancing the Crusaders to Friday’s semifinal round at the 18th annual Holiday Hoop Classic.
While his under-the-weather coach ran from the noise, the 6-foot-3 junior fed off the energy in the gymnasium.
The game pit two Northern California powers against one another and the fanfare matched the level of talent on each bench. Cameramen crowded the baseline and a capacity crowd squeezed into their seats to witness a contrast in styles.
That buzz boosted Satchell’s play — and probably his reputation as a pure scorer, too. He finished with a game-high 21 points, including seven in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders finally pulled away from Campolindo.
“It’s the energy out here. The Holiday Hoop is special and the energy always gives me the confidence to go at it and get a ‘W,’ ” Satchell said. “This is a big win. We’re trying to make a statement out here in NorCal, so this is big and special for us.”
Satchell speaks with conviction. He’s learned to appreciate even the smallest moments in a long season.
Last year, Satchell toiled at the end of the bench in street clothes and anonymity, ineligible because of poor grades. He missed everything — the Holiday Hoop Classic, Modesto Metro Conference play, and of course, the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason.
“Last year really made me look at it like, ‘I’ve got to stop playing around and get things done,’” Satchell said. “It was hard … really hard. I had been working all summer to get ready for the season, but I messed up my grades."
Modesto Christian (8-1) advances to the semifinal round of its own tournament for the seventh straight season. The Crusaders will clash with Tracy (7-1), a future Tri-Cities Athletic League opponent, at 6 p.m.
The victory showcased Modesto Christian’s depth and versatility.
Tyler Williams had 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Mike Pearson, Aaron Murphy and Tsotne Tsardsidse had 12 points apiece.
Tsardsidse started over 6-foot-8 center Gabe Murphy, who had 10 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots. Fantazia liked Tsardsidse’s athleticism and versatility on the defensive end against the smaller, quicker Cougars.
It paid off early.
Tsardsidse blocked a shot early and then scored six straight points late in the second quarter. As the game wore on, brothers Gabe and Aaron Murphy became more of a presence. With their backs to the basket, the Murphy brothers combined for 14 points over the final 16 minutes. More importantly, they forced Campolindo to commit extra help to the post, creating shooting windows along the perimeter.
His trey with 1:51 left in the third quarter also spurred a 13-2 run, helping the Crusaders overcome a 45-42 deficit. He later buried a 3-pointer from the wing to give Modesto Christian its first double-digit lead, 69-59.
“They had to pick their poison and tonight it got them beat,” Fantazia said. “I’ll live with Dathan. Sometimes his shot selection isn’t great, but I think he’s probably the best offensive player we have on this team. When he gets it going, he’s unstoppable."
Modesto Christian was at its best in the final two minutes of each quarter. The Crusaders outscored the Cougars 31-13 in those closing moments, including 13-4 in the first half and 11-2 in the third quarter.
“When we buckle down and really play together, we can really be special,” Satchell said. “We’re tough and we don’t even have our full team yet. Right now, it’s really scary when we buckle down and go at it.”
Campolindo was paced by Carter Mahaney’s 19 points. Will Cummins canned four 3s and finished with 18 points. Trevin Kroichick (13) and John Tochio (11) also scored in double figures.
The game featured 10 lead changes and five ties. Despite giving away considerable height, the Cougars frustrated the Crusaders on the offensive glass, extending possessions with their effort and energy.
“The stuff that they did to us, the execution, they’re going to go a long way this season,” Fantazia said. "That’s a good win for us.”