For some, there might not be anything sweeter than the squeaking sound a shoe makes on a well-polished basketball court. Hearing that during this time of the year means one thing: Basketball season is here.
Pitman, Turlock, Turlock Christian, Denair and Hilmar, basketball teams have all been preparing for a triumphant run.
All five area schools have their own unique storylines, considering some of the players and coaches have been thinking about this moment since last season ended.
Turlock, however, had less time than the other schools to prepare because they competed through March 2009. The Bulldogs made the state tournament, a rare feat for any team in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Don’t think that last year’s run was a fluke, either.
Last season’s Turlock squad set a precedent that this season’s group wants to repeat. Though the Bulldogs lost their two top scorers in Travis Souza and Eric Wetzel because of graduation, they return Anthony Hubbard, Ashton Richardson and Connor Pearson — three returning starters who look to contend for the Central California Conference title, and more. First, they’re looking to successfully defend the Frank Godinez Tournament championship crown that they captured over mighty Modesto Christian in 2009.
“I hope to be playing for a league championship, which is always your first goal, and play as long as we can,” Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot said.
A few miles away, the Pitman Pride are hoping for the same thing. But they enter the season without much height and size, after losing 6-foot-6 towers Dominic Romeo and Amarpreet Randhawa to graduation.
This season, the Pride boast 12 juniors out of 15 players, with the other three being seniors. Coach Harvey Marable said his team will be a competitive one throughout the year with such key returners as Joe Madden and Zach Olsen.
For the three remaining area teams, they’re going to face tough teams throughout the season. Turlock Christian and Denair will welcome Division V runner-up Ripon Christian to the Southern League, undoubtedly strengthening the conference schedule. And Hilmar will look to match last season’s run of advancing to the second round of the Division IV playoffs.
“Their philosophy is team-first,” Hilmar coach Danny Freitas said. “If there’s an open guy, they’re going to get him the ball.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.