The Dublin Gaels’ boys’ basketball team defeated the Elk Grove Herd 66-42 at home to win the Don Nelson Classic championship on Dec. 18. Freshman Jalen Stokes and juniors Courtney Anderson Jr. and Donovan Cooks were named all-tournament first team with Anderson Jr. receiving MVP.
The Gaels dominated the game from the jump. Cooks hit his first three 3-point shots and gave the Gaels an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Herd were unable to replicate the success that got them to the championship game. The Gaels’ defense forced them to shoot perimeter jumpers, which was not their strength. The Gaels went into the halftime break with a 37-18 lead.
It was more of the same for the Gaels in the second half. Anderson Jr. scored 10 points in the third quarter alone and pushed the Gael lead to 30 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter as a Gael win was inevitable. All players who suited up for the Gaels ended up playing in some capacity.
The Gaels hung their hats on the defensive end of the ball. They held the Herd to just 42 points when they have been averaging 62.7 on the season.
“We spent a lot of time on preparation,” said Gaels Head Coach Tom Costello. “They did a really good job of applying the game plan.”
Anderson Jr. turned out another tremendous game for the Gaels. He scored 27 points while hitting seven 3-pointers.
Cooks finished with 24 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc. Stokes added 8 points.
Though the Gaels pick up a key win, Costello believes there is still work to do.
“I think there are streaks within the game where we don’t necessarily have the best ball movement,” said Costello. “I think that’s the area where we still need to get better.”
The Gaels improve to 5-3 on the season and notch a tournament championship for their resume. The next big test for the Gaels will be the Damien Classic tournament in La Verne, California, where they will play some of the best high schools in the Los Angeles area. Their first game of the tournament will be on Dec. 27 against perennial powerhouse Heritage Christian High School.