Before the start of the New Year, the Great Oak boys’ basketball program held their Battle of the Oak tournament. Over the course of four days, from Dec. 27–Dec. 30, Great Oak, Temescal Canyon, Linfield, San Jacinto, Vista Murrieta, Paloma Valley, Corona and Valley View all took to the hardwood court at Great Oak High School. The hope was not only to get in preseason work, but to be crowned the Battle of the Oak tournament champion. Games kicked off with pool play where each team had to battle their way through their prospective pools. Pool A consisted of Great Oak, Corona, Valley View and Paloma Valley. Pool B consisted of Linfield, San Jacinto, Vista Murrieta and Temescal Canyon.
Scores from the first day of pool play saw Temescal Canyon defeat San Jacinto 62-58, Valley View beat Paloma Valley 83-48, Linfield took out Vista Murrieta 65-55 and Great Oak beat Corona 72-46. Day two scores saw Corona beat Valley View in the early game 79-58, Linfield Christian took down San Jacinto, 83-55 and Vista Murrieta beat Temescal Canyon 57-43. In the final day of pool play Corona defeated Paloma Valley 66-50, Vista Murrieta defeated San Jacinto 66-51, Linfield Christian beat Temescal Canyon 85-60 and Great Oak beat Valley View 60-40.
Championship day wrapped up with the seventh-place game that went the way of Orange Vista, who filled in for San Jacinto to take on Paloma Valley, Temescal Canyon took on Valley View in the fifth-place game, but fell 76-70, Vista Murrieta took on Corona in the third-place game, and in the final game of the tournament, Great Oak and Linfield went toe-to-toe for the championship.
In what was a back-and-forth game all night, the Wolfpack, who controlled the first quarter 22-15, and the fourth quarter 14-12, took the Lions down to the wire where they won the Battle of the Oak, 65-62, in front of their home court fans. Jackson Bernardo took home MVP honors for the tournament with Grant Fuson and Jeremy Sengstock named to the All-Tournament team.
Linfield, who stayed in the final game until the last seconds, was backed by Damian Ruiz with 24 points, Julius Brower, who finished with 15 points, and Mike McNair with 13. Ruiz and McNair received All-Tournament honors for the Lions, who finished in second place.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.