Pierce Invitational opens basketball season

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Boys from rival schools Colusa, Pierce, and Williams along with Dixon, Live Oak, Middleton, Orland, Oroville, and Winters all went head-to-head to see what the basketball season has in store. This year marks the 53rd year for the Annual Pierce Invitational. 

The three-day tournament ended with the Pierce Bears coming out on top against Middleton 60-24 after a win against Oroville, 45-38, and Orland, 69-31. 

In the grand finale against the Middleton Mustangs, the Bears went hard in the paint from the gate in the first quarter. Junior Eduardo Paiz was responsible for eight of the 23 points while the Mustangs were only able to score six. 

The strong beginning was a strategy that Coach Cody McCullough had intentionally conditioned the Bears in practice. 

“We try to bring that intensity to everything that we do,” said McCullough. “We don’t start practice with basic layups; going slow, we try to get our practice started at full speed. I think that kind of helps them start these games with intensity.”

Junior Justin Mathews was consistent at the net for the Bears, with four successful free throws, four successful throws from beyond the 3-point line, and two 2-pointers, all contributing to the Bear’s win. 

“During practice we like to implement team workouts,” said Mathews. “We run as one, as a team. We are tired by the end of practice, but it is definitely worth it in the end.”

The “Elite Five,” as McCullough refers to his starters, have had their sixth spot up for grabs, as far as rotations go, for a while, but senior Gentry Condrey had stepped up to be their sixth man.  

“Gentry has worked really hard and improved both offensively and defensively to where I feel very comfortable having him out there and so it has been a huge help,” McCullough said.

During the three days, many spectacular displays of athleticism and sportsmanship made the tournament enjoyable for the fans. 

Colusa won against Orland 67-54, Live Oak 79-53, and Dixon 67-58. Although Williams fell to Orland 56-48 and Oroville 64-51, it is only the beginning and the experience on the court can bring what is proving to already be an exciting season. 

More tournaments will be proving grounds as league games draw near. Upcoming tournaments this weekend are the Marysville Tournament for Colusa. Maxwell will be hosting their own and Pierce will play at the San Anselmo Red Brown Tournament. ■