High School Sports

Why Oakdale, Modesto Christian coaches are upbeat as upcoming tournament hosts

Oakdale basketball coach Hondo Arpoika wasn’t sure where his team would be as the season approached.

He had a solid senior class, some talented underclassmen and the usual wait for football season to end.

Heading into the 48th annual Oakdale Rotary Classic, the fourth-year Mustangs coach has to be pleased.

“I wouldn’t say I knew we’d be 12-0,” he said. “This group has good chemistry, they’re selfless and make sacrifices. They are putting in the time.”

The eight-team, three-day Rotary Classic, which starts Wednesday, is one of two Stanislaus County boys tournaments this week.

Also Wednesday is the 16-team, four-day 19th annual Holiday Hoops Classic at Modesto Christian.

The MC tournament features two teams ranked in MaxPreps’s Top 25 state rankings — No. 12 Clovis West and the 24th-ranked host Crusaders (6-3), who are coming off a 61-56 overtime loss to fifth-ranked Salesian College Preparatory of Richmond on Saturday.

The Crusaders had their chances to win in the final minute, but fell short.

“With our schedule, being 6-3 and with one home game, and traveling all over,” MC coach Brice Fantazia said, “I’m happy with where we’re at. We’re not close to where we need to be. We need to peak in February and March.”

Among the Stanislaus District teams playing in Salida along with the Crusaders: Beyer, Turlock, Patterson, Ripon, Manteca and Weston Ranch, which is ranked No. 38 in the state.

The Crusaders will be looking for their first tournament title since 2015, when they won for just the third time.

Meanwhile, Oakdale has a solid field, featuring Downey and Pitman of the Central California Athletic League and always tough Ripon Christian, which enters its opener against Pitman with a three-game winning streak.

“It’s a good, mid-range tournament,” Arpoika said. “We have a little bit of everything.”

Friday night home victories before good crowds against Merced and McNair, and road wins against Mother Lode League teams Summerville and Bret Harte, give the Mustangs reason to feel good.

But Arpoika knows his tournament is a final chance to prepare for talented teams in the Valley Oak League; Oakdale opens VOL play on Jan. 2 against East Union.

“We have to keep consistent, and learn not to give up some runs,” he said. “We have to improve in all areas and get better on defense. No doubt about it.”

Here’s a look at the Day 1 schedules:

  • Modesto Christian: Campolindo vs Lincoln, 10 a.m.; Clovis West vs. Patterson, 11:30 a.m.; Weston Ranch vs. Tracy, 1 p.m.; Vanden vs. Bakersfield Christian, 2:30 p.m.; Centennial vs. Manteca, 4 p.m.; St. Patrick-St. Vincent vs. Turlock, 5:30 p.m.; Modesto Christian vs. Ripon, 7 p.m.; Foothill (Bakersfield) vs. Beyer, 8:30 p.m.
  • Oakdale: Downey vs. Delhi, 3:30 p.m.; Pitman vs. Ripon Christian, 5 p.m.; Buhach Colony vs. Hughson, 6:30 p.m.; Davis vs. Oakdale, 8 p.m. Thursday. Friday action starts at 3:30 p.m. The championship game is Friday at 8 p.m.
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