Merced boys enjoy spoils at Modesto Christian tourney

SALIDA — With the grind of a four-game, five-day, 16-team basketball tournament being equal parts physical and emotional, Marcus Knott appreciated a fringe benefit of Merced's 77-47 victory early Tuesday afternoon over Ripon.

No need to set the alarm clock.

"It is nice to get into the P.M. games rather than having to get up early, but in all seriousness we wanted to come out today and do out best to play a full 32 minutes," Knott said. "I think the kids did a good job of keeping the pedal to the metal once we got ahead."

The Bears, whose game against the Indians was a 1 p.m. start, advanced to today's 5 p.m. consolation game against Skyline at the 10th annual Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.

Ripon, which stunned Fremont of Los Angeles on Monday, gets another early game today, a 12:30 game for 11th place against Oakland Tech.

The Indians, as has been their pattern in this tourney, opened quickly against the Bears and led 20-15 early in the second quarter. Even then, it was evident that Merced's inside strength, overall quickness and depth eventually would be a problem for Ripon.

Brian Cooksey started the Bears' rally with three straight inside baskets, and Merced would go on to a 23-5 scoring run based on turnovers and transition baskets.

"We talked about having to make Ripon play hard because when you play against a team that shoots the ball as well as they do, you want to get after their legs," Knott said.

Cooksey finished with 23 points and Reggie Nelson added 17 for the Bears (10-2), while Caleb Christian had 15 points and Matt Ratto 12 for the Indians (5-7.)

And another fringe benefit from the win? The 30-point margin allowed Knott to rest his regulars. Today's opponent Skyline had to push the full 32 minutes to beat city rival Oakland Tech.

CENTRAL 76, TURLOCK 69 — The Bulldogs' zone was effective in slowing down the Central attack, but it also allowed Tejeshwar Ghuman to get open on the deep wings. The senior guard drilled eight 3-pointers and finished with 32 points to lead Fresno's No. 2-ranked team to victory.

The last 3-pointer was the biggest. Turlock, behind Travis Souza's five straight points, cut Central's lead to 69-65 with 2:47 remaining. The Grizzlies worked the clock, then had to rush to get a shot off. That's when Ghuman calmly drilled a straight-on 28-footer for a 72-65 lead with 2:12 left.

Souza finished with 22 points, while Eric Wetzel added 13 and Anthony Hubbard and Ashton Richardson 12 apiece for the Bulldogs, who will play Manteca for seventh place today at 2 p.m.

JORDAN 59, MODESTO CHRISTIAN 45 — The earliest wakeup call will come for the tournament hosts, since — shockingly — perennial small-school power Modesto Christian lost its third straight game in the event. The Crusaders will open today's action with 9:30 a.m. tipoff against San Leandro.

Modesto Christian (3-5) has been prone to long dry spells in the early season, and Jordan (5-7) took advantage in the second quarter by holding the Crusaders scoreless for more than five minutes in a 10-0 run to a 26-16 lead with 3:06 left in the half.

CLOVIS EAST 82, MANTECA 42 — The Buffaloes figured to have match-up problems against the relentless full-court pressure of Fresno's top-ranked team, but Manteca was left weaponless with floor leader Kiwi Gardner sitting out because of a double technical foul on Monday.

The Timberwolves (9-4) used that pressure and platoon substitution to sprint to a 24-8 first-quarter lead, and the Buffaloes (7-3) had no means to rally, falling behind 45-21 at halftime.