Raiders’ 13th place finish at Holiday Hoop Classic: ‘Not what we wanted’

The Central Catholic boys basketball team closed the Holiday Hoop Classic with consecutive wins, but the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions didn’t sign up for moral victories.

They wanted the coveted evening time slots, the playoff atmosphere and a chance at the title.

Instead, the Raiders (9-2) played in front of an empty gym for third time in four days on Friday, fading into the weekend long before the afternoon rush.

Cooper Wilson and Josh Hamilton had 15 points apiece as the Raiders pulled away from Modesto, 66-48, securing 13th place.

“This is not what we wanted,” said Wilson, a third-year varsity guard. “We blew it. We should be playing in the winner’s bracket. It definitely hurts, but it was important to get back together as a team and playing better.”

Central Catholic found a flow early and led 33-22 at the intermission. The lead ballooned to 13 after three quarters.

Guard Jared Rice enjoyed his best day of the tournament. He had 13 points and three assists. Conor Fenton and DaRon Bland each had eight rebounds for the Raiders, whose tournament wins came against teams with sub-.500 records.

Modesto (4-5) was led by its post. Esteban Sweeney had 11 points and Paxton Sweeney 10.

“The fact that they were able to mentally come back after the last two days was a blessing for me,” Central Catholic coach Mike Wilson said. “They were heart-broken and they know why, in regards to both losses (to Central of Fresno and Beyer) we took. It was our own undoing.”

Central Catholic had tournament…

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