Nonleague action pays off

Riordan’s Rich Forslund and Wallenberg’s Patrick Mulligan both say their boys’ basketball teams benefit greatly from the bonding experience of playing early season, nonleague tournaments outside of the Bay Area.

But if the two coaches aren’t careful, the strong play of their squads could make them unwelcome guests in future years.

Riordan (6-0) is coming off an impressive win in last week’s Gridley Tournament, while Wallenberg (4-1) claimed the Bret Harte Tournament in Angels Camp.

The Crusaders and Bulldogs are two of a number of The City’s basketball teams that travel to overnight events in December, as coaches look to build chemistry and momentum for league play.

The Gridley and Bret Harte tournaments contained the added feature of having visiting players stay with host families from the host school’s basketball team.

“We were treated so well by the host families up there and it was such a special experience some of the guys joked they didn’t want to come back home,” Forslund said. “The trips help the kids come together as a group and gives us a terrific early bonding experience.”

The tournament also gave the Crusaders a chance to play some top competition from outside the region, including Riordan’s 52-36 victory over Cornerstone Christian of San Antonio, Texas in the final. Tournament MVP Rob Jones scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds in that game, in which Riordan outrebounded the physically imposing Eagles 43-24 and held them to 27 percent shooting.

The Crusaders still have another trip to look forward to, as the team will spend the final five days of the year at tournament at the Chaminade Christmas Classic in Los Angeles.

Wallenberg topped Encina of Sacramento 59-52 to win in Angels Camp to cap an experience Mulligan hopes will carry over for the rest of the season.

“Obviously we had some success this weekend in winning the tournament, but we’re treated extremely well by the community in Angels Camp,” Mulligan said. “The players stay with families, learn about how other people live and develop some friendships that extend beyond high school basketball.”

AAA REALIGNMENT: The Academic Athletic Association has adjusted its girls’ basketball schedule after Balboa, Mission and O’Connell dropped their teams for the year. The Neff and Lang Divisions have been combined for the 2007 season, meaning the eight remaining teams will all play in the same league. Lowell appears to be the early favorite, having raced out to an 11-0 start in nonleague play.

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