Every year for the past 59 years, with the exception of 1978, Gridley has hosted the top teams in Northern California for the three-day Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament.

Every year for the past 59 years, with the exception of 1978, Gridley has hosted the top teams in Northern California for the three-day Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament. Unfortunately, it hasn’t ever really ended the way we as Gridley fans would prefer it to. The records show that Gridley has only notched one “W” in the GIBT history books.

Although I can’t report that the boys were able to add another mark in their GIBT win column, I can report that I see the 2012-2013 season heading down the right track—although it’s far too early in the season to even speak of where that track ends.

For starters, the Gridley boys opened up the tournament against the Division II North Coast Section champions—the Newark Memorial Cougars. Though our Bulldogs lost the game 61-30, Coach Nathan Link was happy with the performance.

“I was really proud of how hard the team played this weekend. It was the most competitive we’ve been in the GIBT since I’ve been the coach.”

The Bulldogs held Newark Memorial to just six points in the second quarter. By the half, they were only down by 15. Tyler Abrego picked up 10 points for the Bulldogs, while Quinn Spring had seven and Shobi Khan had six to lead the Bulldogs in scoring. Mat Scott snatched eight boards.

Newark played Salesian in the second rounds of the GIBT but lost in the final minutes of the game, 55-54. They went on to beat Dublin in the 3rd place game, 86-52.

The Bulldogs met the Freedom Falcons in the consolation brackets on Day 2 of the GIBT. The Falcons had lost to the reigning GIBT champs in the first round by a score of 54-42. By the half, the score was 38-23. After halftime, turnovers caused the Falcons to get the better of Gridley. Freedom pulled away with a 72-36 victory. Abrego led in scoring with 11 points, while Michael Munro followed with five after hitting a solid 3-pointer late in the fourth. Shobi Khan and Leo Espinoza picked up four points apiece. Juan Magana, Emery Haddy, and Quinn Spring each had 3-point shots. Mat Scott also finished with three with a successful free throw after being fouled while scoring.

Gridley met up with the defending Division II Sac-Joaquin Section champions for 7th place on Saturday—the Antelope Titans—in what was probably one of the best Gridley basketball games I’ve watched all season. After going into the half down 43-22, the Bulldogs outscored the Titans 22 points to 17 points in the third quarter to bring the score to 60-44. The final quarter was even more exciting as the Bulldogs’ were unstoppable on defense. They held the Titans to just 10 points in the final quarter. The Bulldogs closed the scoring margin to 11 points after Michael Munro hammered in a three that would get the crowd even louder. Tyler Abrego then closed the gap even more after hitting a free throw with 00:30 to go on the clock. Abrego dropped two more points in the final seconds of the game, but the Titans came out on top 70-62. Abrego finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Leo Espinoza had 10 points. Emery Haddy hit two 3-pointers and a field goal for eight points, and Mat Scott finished with seven points and six rebounds. 

The boys finished in 8th place of their own tournament, but considering they have faced some of the best in the state, there’s not much to be disappointed about. If the Bulldogs can hold their own in a tournament that has some of the top players and teams in the state—and well, the nation—then they’ll definitely be ready for the games that count.

Oh, another thing: Tyler Abrego finished the tournament with 41 points. He was selected for the all-tournament team. Abrego is the first Bulldog to make the all-GIBT team since Efren Del Rio in the 2003 GIBT. Del Rio put up 62 points at the GIBT in 2003.

Box scores from all the GIBT games will be in Friday, December 14 newspaper.