On Oct. 29, the first day of boys basketball tryouts, Gregori Head Coach Ryan Green told the team its goal was to cut down the nets on the final home game of the season and win the Central California Athletic League.
“At tryouts, we set the standard,” Green said. “We have four seniors and they meant a lot to this program and being an athletic team, we thought we could make a run at this thing (league title).”
With a 69-55 win over Turlock on Tuesday at Gregori, the Jaguars (18-9, 7-2) accomplished that goal they set 100 days ago as they clinched at least a share of the title with only one game left. Gregori is at Enochs on Thursday while the Bulldogs (13-12, 6-3) are at Pitman.
The league title is the Jaguars’ first championship since 2012-13 when they split the Modesto Metro Conference banner with Johansen.
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The Jaguars were led by junior Julian Brown, who had 19 points. Green said the 6-foot-3 forward played his best game of his career.
“He stepped up and rose to the occasion,” Green said.
Brown had seven points in the first quarter and the Jaguars needed those buckets as the Bulldogs came out scorching from beyond the arc with six 3-pointers in the opening frame as Gregori led 22-20 after one.
“We were OK with the 3-pointers they were taking because they were contested,” Green said. “If they are going to shoot contested 3-pointers and they are going to make them than maybe it’s their night but we just kept grinding and weathered the storm.”
The Bulldogs cooled off and made just three 3-pointers the rest of the way.
Brown and senior captain Jamin Crenshaw, meanwhile, kept working their way through Turlock’s defense and got uncontested layups and jump shots with the guard finishing with 19 points, nine of which came in the second half.
“They key to the night was being aggressive,” Brown said. “We were hustling for loose balls on every play.”
Senior forward Ty Lott led the Bulldogs with 15 points, nine of which came in the first quarter while junior Cole Carrigg added 13 points.
Another advantage for Gregori was playing at home, where they are 7-0.
It seemed like when the Bulldogs would cut the deficit to six or less in the second half, Gregori would feed off the crowd noise and go on a run to increase the lead to double-digits.
The celebration continued after the game when the team cut down the net.
“The CCAL is ours and here we are,” Green said.