MODESTO – When the Gregori High Jaguars are prowling like they were Wednesday night, they’re the most dangerous predators in the California Collegiate Athletic League.
Kyle Monk and Kobe Nunes, Gregori’s two-headed beast, combined for 48 points – 28 by Monk, 20 by Nunes – and Gregori quickly raced away from the Downey Knights 82-59. Downey entered in first place and exited as one part of a four-team CCAL drag race.
“Our record is deceiving,” Gregori coach Ryan Green said in reference to the Jaguars’ 10-14 season record. Gregori hardened itself against a rigorous non-league schedule, and – in this COVID-ravaged season – Monk and Nunes have been together on the court for less than half of Gregori’s games.
Make no mistake, they’re Gregori’s 1-2 punch now, as Downey sadly discovered at Lyle Iverson Gym.
“We’ve got a little chemistry going,” Nunes said. “We do look for each other.”
Both Monk and Nunes are 6-foot-2 seniors and, equally important, teammates since fourth grade (Nunes transferred from Oakdale two years ago). Their respective games have developed through yeas of training, and their talent at times flashes like Las Vegas neon.
A case in point was Gregori’s 20-0 first-half blitz which settled the outcome. It was ignited by a layup by Donovan Langarica (10 points) but the meat of the run was supplied by Monk and Nunes.
Monk’s crash-tip of Ruben Munoz Montes’ missed 3-pointer supplied an exclamation point to the end of the first period. Later, Nunes capped the extended 26-2 explosion with back-to-back triples. They jumped their advantage to 41-13, and Downey wasn’t within 18 points again.
Downey (15-8), a program showing life after years of dormancy, simply didn’t make enough shots to dull Gregori’s momentum. Coach Mitchell Evans lamented his team’s seven missed free throws and four missed layups while Gregori pulled away.
“I thought we made a lot of errors on offense,” Evans said. “But they (Gregori) are a really good team and played really well.”
Downey’s full-court zone press, which occasionally bothered Turlock last week, was handled efficiently by Gregori. Then again, the Knights needed to score to at least make the Jaguars inbound. Instead, they went quiet for over five minutes while Gregori accelerated.
Both Green and Nunes agreed that Gregori’s first-half performance, resulting in a 46-24 lead, may have been the team’s 16 best minutes of the season. The Jaguars’ 82 points was one shy of their season-best, and the team coasted for most of the second half.
“I think we’re hard to beat when we’ve got our whole team out there,” Green said.
Gregori accented its night with four slam-dunks, two by Nunes. Monk, whose 25.9-points per game average is one of the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section, finished a few times with his hand above the rim. He added 11 rebounds and three assists. Monk and Nunes also accounted for five of the Jaguars’ eight 3-pointers.
Nunes tacked on seven assists. Langarica and Paul Contreras (10 points 7 rebounds) joined the Gregori party.
Downey hoped for improvement from its 70-52 CCAL loss to Gregori last month. Alas, it was more of the same. Lloyd French paced the Knights with 16 points, followed by Jahmaree Gonder and Jorden Lewis with 13 apiece.
The result was a more provocative league race. Turlock (4-1), beaten by Downey last week, sits in first place along with Pitman. The Pride rolled past Modesto while Turlock squeaked by Enochs 43-40. Gregori (5-2) is a major player and so is Downey (4-2) despite the loss.
Better still, the foursome squares off Friday night. Downey travels to Pitman and Gregori goes to Turlock.