When the tournament was over, Torres was exactly right. Freedom blew out Laguna Creek in the first round and notched a come-from-behind victory over College Park in the second. Burbank enjoyed similar success, downing James Logan and Monte Vista in the first two rounds. In the finals, the Titans emerged victorious, defeating the Falcons 61-56.
“It was a competitive tournament,” Torres said. “We played really well defensively against College Park. They made only four baskets on us in the second half. I figured it would come down to us and Burbank. I didn’t know what to expect in the finals.”
Torres said Freedom’s problems came from inconsistent shooting behind the three-point and free-throw lines, a shortcoming that’s plagued the Falcons through the early part of the season. In the loss to Burbank, Freedom made only one of 16 three-point shots attempted.
The Antioch Panthers also participated in the Ghiggeri Invitational. Antioch is a significantly different team than the one that won the Bay Valley Athletic League last year. The Panthers are still suffering through early-season struggles, having dropped the Ghiggeri Invitational opener 89-57 to Monte Vista and lost the finale 71-47 to Las Lomas. Between those games, Antioch managed a 60-56 win against Logan.
Freedom’s played its first post-tournament game Tuesday night against Piedmont Hills. The Falcons trailed most of the way, but managed to fight their way back into the game. Ultimately, Freedom fell short, losing 62-61.
“The players have to buy in to the coaches,” Torres said. “We need some internal leadership; guys that will come out and lead it. If it always comes from the coaches, it’s not going to happen. When it gets to a point where I don’t have to do it, then we’ll have a special team.”
League play for the Falcons, Panthers and the rest of the BVAL will begin Jan. 13. Antioch hosts Freedom in the league opener.