TURLOCK — Three truths emerged after Turlock and Modesto High schools combined for 52 fouls in both schools' basketball opener.
One, the Bulldogs will be — as advertised — one of the teams to beat in the district this season.
Two, the Panthers have the ability and depth to be one of the most improved squads over last season.
Three, perhaps Nov. 24 is too early for anyone to be playing basketball games that count.
Turlock led from tip to buzzer in a 64-41 victory over Modesto, but neither team played as if they've been together as units for very long.
The Bulldogs, according to coach Doug Cornfoot, have had three complete full-squad practices since the end of the football season, or three more than the Panthers, whose football season ended with Friday's first-round playoff loss.
Add to that the combination of learning to play defense at game speed and the early-season officials' emphasis on calling hand-checks on defense and the result is Tuesday's foul fest in which neither team really gets a chance to show what it can do.
"Once we get some practice days in we're going to be all right," said Modesto coach Donnie Wallace, whose team suffered through a 1-26 campaign last season. "We have to move our feet on defense, but we saw glimpses of what we can do when we do things right."
To underscore some of the raw ability of the Panthers, Andre Berry led Modesto with 12 points. This is the same Andre Berry who caught a touchdown pass and intercepted a pass in last Friday's football game, playing without having gone through a full basketball practice.
The Bulldogs were a known entity entering the season because of the returning senior combination of Travis Souza and Eric Wetzel.
But Souza committed two fouls in the opening three minutes and sat the rest of the first half, allowing junior guard Anthony Hubbard ample time to show his stuff. Hubbard led all scorers with 16 points on two 3-pointers and a series of fearless drives to the basket.
"He could be a really good player if he starts to understand the right time to attack the basket and the right time to kick it out," Cornfoot said. "We stress that with him all the time. With Travis spotting up for 3s, he could be a real weapon for us."
Turlock returned to full strength in the third quarter, and showed glimpses of being a special team. Souza scored all of his 14 points in the third, as the Bulldogs outscored Modesto 29-13 to take a 53-27 lead into the fourth quarter.