GRIDLEY – It took awhile for the No. 2 Gridley Bulldogs to get going in their CIF Division V state tournament opening-round contest against No. 15 Brookside Christian Wednesday night at Farmer’s Hall.
But it all came together in the third quarter, when the Bulldogs (24-6) outscored the Knights 23-9 to pull away for a 64-58 win.
With the victory, Gridley moves on to the CIF’s new playoff system’s version of the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs will host No. 10 Bradshaw Christian Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Bradshaw Christian ousted No. 7 Redwood Christian, 61-58 in overtime Wednesday night.
Wednesday night at Farmer’s Hall, the Bulldogs fell into a 9-2 hole out of the gate, but quickly rallied with a 9-2 run of their own to tie it at 11.
The two teams were knotted at 15 at the first stop and Brookside Christian led 25-24 at halftime.
Gridley coach Chay Dake said the key to the third-quarter outburst was simple.
“The guys gained some confidence,” Dake said. “When we play like we’re capable of, we’re unstoppable.”
Senior forward Tyler Little said he and his teammates were able to loosen up some when the Bulldog defense stepped up and a few breaks started bouncing their way.
“We were able to get some stops and convert them into transition points,” Little said. “And we remembered that this game is about having fun.”
Senior guard Brian Wilkerson led the Bulldogs with 26 points, a good chunk of those coming during the pivotal third-quarter run.
Little had 14 and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Freshman Grant Tull had 13 points to round out a trio of Bulldogs in double figures.
Geronimo Rubio-Dela Rosa led Brookside Christian with 21 points.
The Knights finish the season at 20-9.