MC hoop teams await next Crusade

After winning dual Sac-Joaquin Section championships Saturday, the Modesto Christian High boys and girls basketball teams knew they would open the Northern California Regionals at home.

Sunday, they found out that, should they win Tuesday, they'll be at home again.

The Crusaders boys and girls teams each received No. 2 seeds in the CIF Northern California Regional Division IV Tournament, and will open at home Tuesday.

The girls will play Central Valley of Shasta Lake (22-7), which lost to Corning in their Northern Section championship. Tip off is at 6 p.m. The boys follow with a 7:30 game against Corning (23-6), also a Northern Section runner-up.

"It's been a storybook year," MC girls coach Robb Spencer said. "We've got 10 girls who have all bought in. They've all made sacrifices to their game for the team.

"And this year, we feel NorCals will be pretty wide-open."

Spencer's Crusaders will have to watch out for Central Valley sophomore guard Lala Forrest-Cawker, who scored 31 points in the Falcons' North Section championship loss to Corning.

The Corning boys were the top seed in the North Section playoffs. But Sutter hit a shot in the last seconds for a 53-51 victory, sending the Cardinals on the road to Modesto Christian. It isn't a good matchup for Corning.

"We're playing pretty well right now," MC boys coach Gary Porter said. "Reeves Nelson is a Division I player and Johnny Hutton has been really consistent for us. But we're also getting really good guard play, too."

Should both Crusaders teams win Tuesday, they'll be at home for Thursday's NorCal semifinals as well.

The girls would play the winner of the Marin Catholic-Santa Cruz game, while the boys would play the St. Mary's of Berkeley-Menlo winner. St. Mary's beat MC's boys in the NorCal final last year.

"The 2 seed is huge," Spencer said. "Getting that second game at home is important, especially when the entire bracket is competitive."

Porter feels his Crusaders are a dangerous team.

"We lost to (No. 1 seed) Salesian by 20 points, but we didn't have Reeves and we didn't have (starting guard) Isaiah Burse," he said. "I feel like we're going to compete with anybody we play."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at or call 578-2300.

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