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Gridley beats Marysville in season opener
Scott, Abrego lead the way for Bulldogs
Last season marked a return to prominence for coach Nathan Link and the Gridley High boys basketball team.
Led by a talented senior class, the Bulldogs reached the Northern Section Division IV championship game for the first time in nine years and advanced to the CIF State Tournament after falling to Central Valley in the title game at Chico State.
Now they are looking for more.
Three newcomers started the season opener for Gridley on Tuesday night, and while Link admitted his team still has a long way to go, he likes what he sees from the current crop of Bulldogs.
With the senior duo of Mat Scott and Tyler Abrego putting in solid performances in the paint, Gridley kicked off the 2012-13 campaign in impressive fashion with a 77-55 victory over Marysville at Lesta Joubert Gymnasium.
The 6-foot-4 Scott finished with a game-high 18 points to go with 11 rebounds, while the 6-foot-5 Abrego tallied 16 points and pulled down seven boards for the Bulldogs (1-0), who used their sizable height advantage to make things difficult for the Indians all evening.
"We've got a great group of kids and they're excited to come out and grow as a team," Link said. "We're a different team this year, but I think we're capable of getting to that next level. We just need to keep working on getting better."
The biggest addition for the Bulldogs has been the arrival of Abrego, a transfer from Live Oak who missed all of last season with a torn meniscus in his knee. Abrego arrived at Gridley midway through last school year and his presence in the post is a nice compliment to Scott and his inside game.
"It was a little shaky at first, but it's nice to be back on the court," Abrego said. "I have teachers that support me and a coach who cares about my grades. I like it here."
While there are several changes in the works at Gridley, the same can be said for Marysville.
Tuesday night saw the regular-season debut of new Indians coach Stan Easter, who replaced former coach Mark Wright during the summer. Easter, a Los Angeles native, came to the area in the 1990s to play at Yuba College. He has since coached local AAU teams and jumped at the opportunity to take over the Indians' program.
Tuesday was also Easter's 36th birthday, although the game didn't turn out the way he would've liked.
"The funny thing is we played the same way last night," said Easter, referring to his team's 81-79 victory over Faith Christian in a Foundation Game on Monday. "We played too fast, dribbled too much and played selfish, which is uncharacteristic for us.
"Hopefully, we'll get a couple practices in and get back on track."
Senior guard Brayden Bartolome led the way for the Indians (0-1) with 13 points, while fellow senior Brandon Graves added 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocks while battling through foul trouble.
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Indians 42-21.
Gridley also won the junior varsity contest 55-43. Erik Streaze led the Indians with 18 points, while Daniel Pete finished with 12.