The gifts have been unwrapped, and the basketballs are back in play. Basketball preseason tournaments kicked back into gear Thursday, with three events in Monterey County taking center stage.
Fourteen high school girls basketball teams began their journey toward winning the Sweet 16 Holiday Tournament championship at Hartnell College, and there were some mixed results for the locals.
Among the local teams to win was North Salinas, the defending Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division champions. The Vikings posted one of the biggest wins in the tournament.
Notre Dame held tough with Castilleja of Palo Alto before a late run doomed the Spirits’ chances.
Although Salinas and Soquel had byes in the tournament bracket, they played each other as part of a warmup to the bracketed play. Salinas stayed close with Soquel, last year’s runner-up, but couldn’t close in on the Knights in the fourth quarter.
North Salinas 75, Gonzales 23: The Vikings didn’t allow a score for almost the first four minutes of the game as they went on to defeat the Spartans.
With the win, North Salinas improved to 6-1.
The Vikings used their speed and defense to grab the early big lead and then ride it to victory.
Four North Salinas players finished in double figures scoring.
Nicole Hermosillo-Wright and Monae Hobson each had 15 points, Jordyn Enos had 14 points and Alyssa Springs had 11 points for the Vikings.
Gonzales point guard Ali Lombardi got the Spartans going on the scoreboard with back-to-back three-pointers in the first quarter. Lombardi had three three-pointers and finished with 11 points.
Katelyn Banuelos had six points.
Castilleja 57, Notre Dame 39: The Spirits were within reach of matching the Gators, but a 13-3 run to close out the contest was enough to keep the Spirits from the win column.
Castilleja center Yasmeen Affifi, who powered Castilleja with her defense in the first three quarters, came alive on offense in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of her game-high 19 points in the frame.
Notre Dame started the fourth quarter down 37-29 when Sarah Muzik drilled a three-pointer from the corner to get the Spirits to within 37-32.
The Notre Dame faithful were as loud as they had been all game. But then Castilleja came down and answered, as Ellie Chen spotted up for a three-pointer to boost the Gators’ lead to 40-32.
From there, the two teams stayed within eight to 10 points. With 4:26 to go in the game, Castilleja turned to Affifi, and she powered the Gators the rest of the way. She split two free throws to increase Castilleja’s lead to 45-36. After a Notre Dame miss, the Gators came back and got her the ball. She hit a turnaround shot in the paint for two more.
Affifi scored all 10 of her fourth-quarter points in Castilleja’s 13-3 run to finish the game.
Marisa Given had 15 points for Notre Dame, while Muzik had 13 points.
Notre Dame dropped to 3-5 with the loss. The Spirits next play Aptos, who lost to Dougherty Valley 47-41, at 11 a.m. today.
Soquel 54, Salinas 44: The Knights did just enough to get by the Cowboys to improve to 4-3 on the season.
Daniela Villegas led Salinas with 12 points.
Salinas plays Dougherty Valley at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
St. Francis Central Coast Catholic 42, Seaside 31: The Sharks from Watsonville remained unbeaten on the season as they defeated the Spartans.
Seaside was down 17 at half and made a second-half rally to cut to within single digits. But the Sharks didn’t allow the Spartans to get any further.
Kia Scott-Mitchell scored 14 points and had seven rebounds.
St. Francis improved to 6-0 this season against Monterey County teams.
Corona 86, Monterey 38: At North Monterey County, the Toreadores were downed by the Southern California squad in the first round of the Condor Christmas Classic.
The loss moved Monterey to 4-3 on the season.
The Toreadores next play St. Francis Central Coast Catholic in the consolation bracket today.
Aptos 79, Alisal 57: At North Salinas, the three-time defending Bob Steinbach Classic Tournament champions prevailed over Alisal in the first round of the 2013 event.
Darwin Ongy had 17 points for Alisal, which dropped to 5-4.
The Trojans play Greenfield at 3 p.m. today in the second round.
Salinas 78, Greenfield 34: At North Salinas, the Cowboys advanced to the semifinals of the Bob Steinbach Classic by defeating the Bruins.
Salinas did not allow Greenfield to score in the fourth quarter.
LaRon Logwood had 16 points for the Cowboys. Nick Dainty had 13 points, and Zach Teeter had 10 points.
Salinas will play Aptos at 6 p.m. tonight. It is a rematch of last year’s finals, won by Aptos.
North Monterey County 67, Scotts Valley 63: At North Monterey County, the Condors picked up the close win by holding off Scotts Valley in the final seconds.
The Falcons had a couple of chances to tie the game in the final 18 seconds but both attempts missed the mark.
Kevin Montemayor had 21 points, while Jordan Graves tallied 12 points and eight assists.
The second round Condor Christmas Classic schedule for today: Monterey vs. St. Francis Central Coast Catholic at 2:30 p.m., Pajaro Valley vs. Scotts Valley at 4 p.m., Corona vs. Menlo-Atherton at 5:30 p.m., North Monterey County vs. Anderson at 7 p.m.
North Salinas 72, Marina 46: At North Salinas, the Vikings were in a tight one with Marina before pulling away in the second half to get the win in the first round of the Bob Steinbach Classic.
North Salinas scored 46 second-half points after leading Marina 26-16 at the intermission.
Christian Casilla has 15 points to lead the Vikings, while Nehemiah Daye and Luis Medina each had 10 points. Isiaha Sanders paced Marina with 12 points.
The second round Bob Steinbach Classic schedule for today: Alisal vs. Greenfield at 3 p.m., Gonzales vs. Marina at 4:30 p.m., Aptos vs. Salinas at 6 p.m., North Salinas vs. Mission San Jose at 7:30 p.m.