From the beginning of the Los Banos/Pacheco Tournament, the two host schools took different paths.
Pacheco High was successful early, routing Delhi in the first round 50-16, then edging Turlock 35-33 in the semifinals before falling 70-35 to Whitney in the tournament championship.
Los Banos, meanwhile, dropped the opener 41-38 to Chowchilla, then bounced back to rout Modesto 53-9 and Le Grand 62-29.
For both programs, the tournament showed them what they wanted to see early in the season.
“We got confidence because we played well at Delhi, because we played poorly against Turlock but worked hard to grind out a victory, and we got up against Whitney and they were a machine,” Pacheco coach Michael Perkins said. “They have some really good players. They’re going to be playing in March or late February and do some damage with some of the players they have, and I thought we played hard against them.”
That confidence, though, has its roots in the team’s improved attitude in practice.
“A lot of people think it comes from when you’re on the court and you beat a team, but the confidence comes in practice when you get the confidence that you can do something,” Perkins said. “The evidence happens in the game that kind of proves it to you a little bit, but you won’t even try it in a game if you don’t have the confidence from practice, and that’s where we’re trying to build this determination into the program.”
Practice, though, can only prepare a team so much when it comes to a buzzsaw like Whitney. The team from Rocklin sliced through the tournament field with ease, destroying Modesto 56-11 and Chowchilla 60-29 before running Pacheco out of its own gym in the championship.
Chowchilla bounced back to defeat Turlock 33-29 in the third-place game.
For Los Banos, the weekend showed the Tigers can bounce back from a disappointing loss, like the three-point opening loss against Chowchilla.
“I told the girls, ‘You know, the loss is something we need to bounce back from, and somebody needs the pay for it, because we know we had a bad performance,’ ” Los Banos coach Danny Crosby said.
“We beat Modesto, and I told them that I’m not happy with just Modesto, we have to keep moving forward because the schedule’s going to get a little tougher, with tournaments to play, so we have to pick up the pieces. And they did. They came back a little bit more focused for the next game.”
The Tigers were left pondering the what-ifs after the Chowchilla loss, in which the Tigers had possession with 13 seconds remaining while down only two points. But a final shot bounced off the front of the rim and nobody was there to follow up with a put-back. It remains the Tigers’ only loss of the young season, but the tournament did give them an idea what kind of team they are.
“I’m a little bit closer to finding the right mix of kids that I need to start building some chemistry with moving forward. That’s what I explained to them today,” Crosby said after the win over Delhi, Crosby’s former team. “We were able to get kids some playing time so we can see where our level is as far as finding the correct five to play together and get the chemistry going, then the others can fill in the spots.”