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With a 15-1 record, the Modesto Christian boys basketball team went into Wednesday’s matchup with Lincoln of Stockton having accomplished a lot so far this season.
One thing that was still on their long to-do list: take control of the Tri-City Athletic League’s top spot.
In a competitive, chippy environment, the Crusaders got the best of the Trojans, beating the league’s previous No. 1 team, 73-62.
“(We) definitely wanted to make a statement to prove that we’re at the top and just that we had more grit and more heart to get the win,” said junior guard B.J. Davis. “It was a bloodbath out there.”
Davis scored 18 points for Modesto Christian (16-1, 5-0), second to Jamari Phillips’ team-high 23.
The game had everything you’d expect from two of Northern California’s top teams. Towering dunks, diving on the floor for a loose ball and the occasional trash talk.
Individual talent was spread across the floor. Davis, a junior, and Phillips, a sophomore, already have high-major offers and forward Manasse Itete is gaining interest on the gridiron after just his first year playing football.
The Crusaders’ defense mainly focused on Lincoln’s (14-3, 4-1) 6-foot-7 senior guard Miles Byrd. The San Diego State commit and McDonald’s All American Game nominee finished with 11 points.
Hitting the road
Davis said he had his bags packed before Wednesday night’s league matchup.
The Crusaders left town at 6 a.m. Thursday for St. Louis to play a pair of games. On Friday, they will take on Missouri’s No. 40 team, Cardinal Ritter College Prep and on Saturday, face the second ranked team in Missouri, Christian Brothers, in the Quincy Shootout.
After Wednesday’s high-intensity game, some players will be a little banged up going into the weekend. Phillips sat the final minute out of precaution after a hamstring injury and Ty Virgil was hurt as well. Head coach Brice Fantazia said his guys are looking forward to the trip and competition against yet another out-of-state opponent.
“Those guys are tough,” Fantazia said. “We’ll watch a lot of film tomorrow and try to help those guys rest up and you know, see if we can give it a go.
“It’ll be a great atmosphere. Everybody I’ve talked to said they do a great job with it. The whole city comes out. So we’re looking forward to it and it’ll be a good test for us.”
El Capitan 58, Central Valley 22: The Hawks were unable to shake off the rust after more than 20 days off. They fell to the Central California Conference’s second best team in their first league game of the season.
Golden Valley 56, Patterson 52: The Tigers couldn’t get their second straight win, falling to the Cougars despite a 21-point third quarter.
Beyer 74, Johansen 37: The Patriots ended their five-game losing streak and picked up their first league victory with a dominant win over the Vikings Wednesday.
Turlock 77, Gregori 50: Daniel Malagon went off for 30 points and six threes for the Central California Athletic League leading Bulldogs.
Central Catholic 62, Oakdale 58: The Raiders won their third straight in Wednesday’s Valley Oak League matchup with the Mustangs. Central Catholic advances to 2-1 in league play and Oakdale drops to 1-4.
Johansen 6, Mountain House 2: The Vikings secured third place in the Western Athletic Conference with Wednesday’s win. They set a new season high in goals scored, surpassing the previous mark of five.
Livingston 6, Escalon 0: The Cougars were unable to slow down the Wolves’ offense, giving up six goals for the third time this season.
Riverbank 4, Hughson 1: The Bruins used three second-half goals to propel them to a big win over the Huskies.
Central Valley 2, El Capitan 0: The Sac-Joaquin Section’s No. 11 team picked up its 13th win on Wednesday. Central Valley has shut out three of its last four opponents.
East Union 5, Central Catholic 1: The Raiders couldn’t pick up their first win of the season on Wednesday. Giovanni Perez secured a hat trick for the Lancers.
Oakdale 5, Manteca 2: Ryan Krause finished with a hat trick and Vincent Petersen had four saves for the Mustangs who sit at fourth in the VOL.
El Capitan 4, Central Valley 1: The Hawks scored their only goal of the game in the first half, but gave up three to the Gauchos en route to their second straight loss. With three ties and two losses in their last five games, Central Valley hasn’t picked up a win since Dec. 17.
Mountain House 4, Johansen 0: In their first game since Jan. 5, the Vikings were unable to score a goal against the Mustangs. They were held scoreless for the third time in their last four games.