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MLK Classic: Salesian, Akinjo too much for Modesto Christian - Jan 18, 2018


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EUROBASKET NEWS
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James Akinjo
Two of Northern California's best boys basketball teams wrapped up the 21st MLK Classic on Monday night at Saint Mary's College with a game befitting of top-tier programs. But, in the end, one player stole the show. Connecticut-bound guard James Akinjo (6'0''-PG) scored 35 points - the most of any player in the six-game showcase that began at 10 a.m. - as Salesian pulled away in the second half for a 76-62 victory over Modesto Christian. Akinjo scored 23 points after halftime to help Salesian break open a tight game and run its record to 17-1. Modesto Christian fell to 13-3. 'I always shoot well at Saint Mary's,' Akinjo said after another spectacular performance in the facility. 'I don't know what it is about the gym, but I've never had a bad shooting game at Saint Mary's.' Akinjo knew the importance of the game and certainly played as if the stakes were high. He helped the Pride get off to a strong opening quarter and had a productive third quarter after Modesto Christian pulled to within 31-28 at halftime. 'They're a really good team, and they're going to be Open Division,' Akinjo said. 'We just wanted to set ourselves up for a good seed in the Open Division playoffs.' Jaden McClanahan had 13 points and Joshua Jefferson added 11 for Salesian. Junior Ballard led Modesto Christian with 15 points. Salesian coach Bill Mellis said he liked what he saw from his players with the exception of one stretch in the first half. 'In the second quarter we got a little bit out of our rhythm and out of what we were doing that got us the lead in the first quarter,' he said. 'But I think a lot of that had to do with them. When they were down and called that timeout when it was 15-4, they picked up the intensity, and we couldn't match it. 'At least in the fourth quarter we were able to reestablish ourselves and pull away. It was a 14-point game, but I don't know if it was a 14-point game. It was a lot closer than that. They're a good team, and you have to play really well to beat them.' Mellis said it was just as important for his team to get better Monday as it was to gain a potential seeding advantage over Modesto Christian. 'When you play Modesto, you get better, win or lose,' he said. 'That was the important thing for us. The seeding is great. The playoff implications, that's fine. But we have to be playing better basketball in March, and they'll be playing better basketball for sure.'
Courtesy of: mercurynews.com

  




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