With winter break nearly over and the second half of the winter sport season about to begin, the Gridley boys basketball team is arguably the hottest local team. The Bulldogs are 7-3, but are undefeated outside of the Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament.

With winter break nearly over and the second half of the winter sport season about to begin, the Gridley boys basketball team is arguably the hottest local team. The Bulldogs are 7-3, but are undefeated outside of the Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament.


Gridley began the season by narrowly defeating Marysville 53-48, and followed it with their biggest win of the season, 79-34 over the Williams Yellowjackets.


They've taken first place in the Los Molinos Tournament and the Hamilton Tournament, with  Zane McFarlane, Bryan Monzon and Ty Nichols being named All-Tournament, and Scott Peck winning two MVPs.


Perhaps their two biggest wins came over University Prep, 53-42, and Corning, 51-44. Both the Panthers and the Cardinals have nine wins and only one loss other than the one to Gridley. Head coach Jamie Spring said his team has been playing pretty much up to expectations.


"Corning was probably one of our bigger challenges and we were able to get them," he said. "We've won the games we're supposed to win, and we still got some work to do."


Spring would like to see his team return to action with better execution on offense and a more aggressive man defense. The Bulldogs' depth has proven to be one of their biggest strengths midway through the season. Spring kept 15 players on the roster, and they're solid top to bottom. He thinks it's helped them pull away late in games.


Nichols leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points per game, but they have five other players averaging at least 5 points per game, and nearly everyone contributing. McFarlane is shooting 88 percent from the free throw line, and Vincent Spring and Trevor Scott are shooting 71 and 70, respectively.


Their three losses at the GIBT came as no surprise, but their performance was still impressive. Gridley outscored Salesian High School in the third quarter of their Friday game, and showed stretches of being able to compete throughout the tournament. Spring had hoped the team could win one game.


"I was pleased with what we did," he said. "We didn't quite do what we wanted to do. I felt like in that Friday night game, that was the one we could've got."


Still, the Bulldogs gained valuable experience from facing the tougher competition.


"When you just play teams here, small schools in northern California, you start feeling like you're a little better than you really are," Spring said.


The Bulldogs will return to action with a home game against Colusa (3-8) on Wednesday, January 7 before competing in the Corning Tournament  from Thursday to Saturday. They then take on Willows (5-8) on the road before beginning Butte View League competition against Sutter, Las Plumas, Orland, Wheatland and Winters.


Gridley currently leads the BVL, but three other teams are .500 or better. Sutter is a close second at 8-4, Orland is 7-5 and Wheatland is 5-5.