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Victoria West wins annual VISD Classic

By BY JULIE GARCIA - JGARCIA@VICAD.COM
Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:31 a.m.

Victoria West guard Isaac Simmons, left, passes the ball while being guarded by St. Joseph guard Cameron Zafereo, right, during the championship game of the VISD Classic at the Victoria Events Center.

Victoria Classic All-Tournament Team

• Ruben Trevino - Victoria West - Most Valuable Player

• Isaac Simmons - Victoria West

•  Chris Erskine - Victoria West

• Luke Wenske - St. Joseph

•  Cody Janak - St. Joseph

• Tren'Davian Dickson - Navasota

• Lamarquis Jefferson - Navasota

•  Anthony Palmer - C.H.S.M.

Coach Pat Erskine referred to Gunnar Ritchey as Victoria West's Manu Ginobli.

"Gunnar comes in and out, and he does things," Erskine said after West's 44-37 championship victory over St. Joseph in the Victoria Classic on Monday night. "He plays one minute; he plays three minutes; he plays five minutes. He's done an outstanding job this tournament."

The senior forward credited his team for turning around after its loss to Yoakum in the first game Saturday.

"It was really more of a team effort," Ritchey said. "I just tried to be vocal and communicated and tried to relay plays and pump the guys up on the bench. I tried to get everybody working together as a cohesive unit."

In Saturday's game, Erskine said the team took Yoakum lightly at first, which put them in a losing position that they couldn't turn around.

"Going into double overtime and losing made us realize that you can't take teams or anyone lightly," Erskine said. "They waited until the end of the third quarter to come out and play."

After that early loss, the Warriors (12-8) were determined to turn it around.

"For the first time this tournament, we feel like we've played one or two of these games a complete four quarters," Erskine said. "The Navasota game gave us the idea that we could finish all four quarters."

The Victoria Classic gave Ritchey, in addition to sophomore Ruben Trevino, a chance to stand out against several area teams, including their two closest hometown rivals in St. Joseph and Victoria East.

At this point in the season, Erskine wants his team to start peaking. This tournament showed him that the players' skills and attitudes are where they should be.

Being the hometown champion in a Victoria tournament is great for team confidence going into the rest of West's district games.

But playing against the Flyers and coming out victorious is what makes Erskine most proud.

"They've got a lot of seniors now, and they play hard," he said. "We're honored to be able to play against them. The Victoria Classic with two Victoria teams - it's just a neat thing."

St. Joseph coach Abraham Garcia was pleased with the overall Flyer performance in the tournament.

"We brought a different energy, and the season has been up and down," Garcia said. "This was a good tournament for us."

Afflicted with injuries and illnesses, Garcia said the team is just now starting to get into a rhythm.

"We've really never been able to get on a roll," he said. "Hopefully, now that we have everyone back, we're going to try to get things moving."

The final game of the tournament came down to the final five minutes with the Warriors scoring 10 points compared to the Flyers' seven points.

West junior Isaac Simmons scored 17 points and two 3-pointers followed by Mason Marshall and Chris Erskine with nine points each.

Garcia said that adding senior Cody Janak back in the mix after a rolled ankle injury helped the Flyers' performance.

Janak scored 12 points for St. Joseph, two behind Adam Konarik, who scored 14 points.

St. Joseph begins district play Jan. 10 against Austin Hyde Park.

West will continue their district run against Calallen at home Friday.

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