Gridley's 56-year basketball tradition plays on
Hundreds of fans will pack Farmer's Hall once again this year for the 56th annual Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament on Dec. 10-12. This varsity boys basketball tournament has been a longstanding tradition in Gridley 56 years in the making. Great talent has played on the gym floor at Gridley High School and presented the community of Gridley memories they shall never forget.
A man by the name of John Valentino, a coach and teacher at GHS, arranged the first G.I.B.T. in 1953. Jack and Jane Brumley began directing the tournament in 1988 and remained involved until 2007.
The illustrious tournament has brought in the most prominent teams of Northern California for the past 55 years, including De La Salle, McClymonds, Fremont of Oakland, Newark Memorial and many others.
This year's powerhouse teams attending G.I.B.T are state champions Salesian High School of Richmond, Sacramento High School, Clovis East High School, the Fresno area favorite, Castro Valley High School, Newark Memorial High School, Jesuit High School of Carmichael, Bishop Manogue of Reno and Gridley High School.
The 2008 Division IV state champions Salesian High School will return to Gridley this year for the tournament to attempt succession and take home the trophy. At this time, Salesian is the No. 1 ranked team in Northern California, followed by Sacramento High School in the No. 2 slot, Newark Memorial High School ranked No. 8, Castro Valley High School as No. 9 and Jesuit High School ranked No. 14 by NorCalPreps.com.
Although the Gridley Bulldogs have never seen the championship game in the past 55 years, it attests to the many gifted and talented basketball players that have stepped onto the floor in former years.
Standout competitors in the history include DeMarcus Nelson from Vallejo, who was G.I.B.T. MVP in 2002, continued on to play at Duke University for four years and then for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA; and also Alex Austin, arguably one of Gridley's finest players, who continued on to play for Arizona State University and then the Continental Basketball Association.
Numerous Division I prospects will be attending this year's 2009 G.I.B.T., including Desmond Simmons from Salesian, who has signed to play for Washington University and averaged 19 points per game in last year's season, and also, James Moore, the 6'9" power forward from Jesuit, who is currently being recruited by many colleges although is yet undecided, as he is only a junior.
As the tournament edges nearer, the student body of GHS and the community prepare themselves for three days jam-packed with basketball.
Amber McIntire is a senior at Gridley High School. Her column appears about every sixth week in Education.