The Jack Scott Tournament at Rio Americano High School has a special place in Ken Manfredi's heart.
Manfredi grew up witnessing and experiencing some of the 38-year-old tournament's most memorable highlights, first as a ballboy, then as a Rio Americano player competing for his father and, for the last eight years, as the boys basketball coach at Monterey Trail.
"Each year at this time, I'm reminded of all the stories my dad used to tell me how he was hired by chance to coach at Rio Americano on a golf course and the influence the tourney has had on the school and the community," Manfredi said.
Al Manfredi founded the tournament in 1975 shortly after Jack Scott, the Rio Americano athletic director and a versatile coach, had died in an airplane crash.
Among Ken's fondest memories:
Seeing Kevin Johnson, now Sacramento's mayor, score a still-tournament-record 54 points for Sacramento High against Bella Vista in the 1982 championship game.
Watching his dad install a four-corners stalling offense that nearly derailed a mega-talented Burbank team before Rio Americano lost 16-15 in the 1984 final.
Twice reaching Jack Scott championship games as a player.
Saturday night's Jack Scott championship finale produced an even better memory for Manfredi, and came against his old boyhood and league rival, Jesuit, no less.
Behind Sanam Jhajj's 20 points, 16 each by Leondre Lintz and Brian Jackson and the floor play of tournament MVP Gabriel Tavora, Monterey Trail beat Jesuit 64-56. The small but aggressive Mustangs made 11 three-point shots to neutralize their taller foes. Lake Lutes led Jesuit with 25 points.
"I thought our kids played phenomenally well in this tournament," Manfredi said. "We had 10 players who played in their first varsity game last week (66-53 loss to Woodcreek), we have only one senior who plays a lot, and we go about 5-foot-10 to 6-1. They're young, hungry and like being around each other."
For Manfredi, it was his first Jack Scott title win in five tries as a player and three as a coach.
"For me, it's a special individual moment, but for my kids, this is huge," he said.
Monterey Trail beat Oak Ridge 65-63 in overtime in Thursday's opener, then edged Rio Americano 56-52 in Friday's semifinals.
Like Monterey Trail, Jesuit had two tough tests in an event that tournament director Chris Jones said was the most competitive top-to-bottom since he started running it five years ago.
The Marauders had to win come-from-behind games over Kennedy, 63-51, and Foothill, 50-46. While they are one of the area's taller teams with 6-9 Brady Anderson, 6-6 Lutes and 6-5 Kori Collons, they also are an inexperienced bunch, with just two seniors.
"We're picking up our experience on the fly," Jesuit coach Greg Harcos said.
Although disappointed by the finale, Harcos liked having the opportunity to start the season in the Jack Scott because it was close to home and a chance to match chess moves with coaching colleagues such as Manfredi and Foothill's Drew Hibbs whom he respects. And though the former Jesuit football and basketball standout never played in the Jack Scott Tournament, he closely followed the results as a teen.
"A lot of my friends went to Rio, so you always knew what they were up to since they were just down the street," Harcos said. "It's a good, well-run event."