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Bulldogs runners-up, Mercy 7th in Block LM
Eight high school basketball teams representing Divisions 4-6 braved the ominous forecasts and took part in the 40th annual Block LM Shootout held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Los Molinos High.
Division VI teams were Mercy High, American Christian Academy and Champion Christian, while Los Molinos, Williams, Hamilton and Esparto represented D5, Sutter was the lone entrant from D4.
The host Bulldogs made it all the way to the tournament championship, but a five-minute dry spell in the fourth quarter made all the difference in Hamilton's 43-35 victory.
The Bulldogs trailed 16-9 after the first quarter and 27-20 at the break, before beginning the fourth quarter just one point behind at 30-29.
After Hamilton's Shea Shull sank a pair of free throws to begin the period, the Bulldogs were not able to do anything with their first three possessions, which ended with a desperation shot as the shot clock expired, a travel and a 5-second call when trying to inbound the ball.
Jesus Castillo's baseline jumper with 5:15 to play forced the first tie at 32-32, but the Bulldogs did not find the bottom of the net again until A.J. Long banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Castillo - the team's lone senior - finished with a team-high nine points, Long added eight and Eric Haley, six.
"We're young with almost all juniors," remarked Los Molinos coach Christian Cumpston, "they played good defense and I'm proud of how they competed. We'll continue to get better, and will look different once league comes around."
Hamilton coach Brian Erickson, who had to wait for most of his team to finish up the football season, said of their tournament performance, "Our intensity has a long way to go, they didn't play as hard as they could have. We're still really rusty."
Mercy bounced back from losses on the first two days to beat Champion Christian 53-27 for a seventh-place finish.
The Mustang's Robbie Spicer scored the game's first seven points, but Tommy Garcia dropped a 3-pointer to put Mercy on the board, and that was followed by two in the paint by William Gentry off a pass from Harlow Johnson, a pair at the line by Francesco Addonizio that he followed up with a hoop off a loose ball, and a fast-break bucket by Adel Syed that made it 9-7 Mercy.
After the early-game uprising the Warriors outscored Champion 26-9 to take a 16-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
The game was very physical on both sides, but Mercy's quick hands closed a lot of passing lanes and created turnovers as the Warriors went on a 15-0 run to begin the second half and blow the game wide open.
Syed's 17 points paced all scorers, with Garcia, Johnson and Addonizio also scoring in double figures with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Spicer totaled 14 for Champion.
In Saturday's other games, Sutter smacked Esparto 77-20 and Williams knocked off ACA 53-39.
Los Molinos 42, ACA 41
Esparto 47, Champion 27
Hamilton 58, Williams 38
Sutter 61, Mercy 25
Los Molinos 58, Esparto 38
Hamilton 38, Sutter 34
Williams 72, Mercy 57
ACA 63, Champion 21
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.