Turlock High’s girls basketball team has struggled through a string of injuries in 2015. With the loss of sophomore standout Shae Williams for the season due to an ACL tear and issues with sprained ankles and concussions with a couple other players, the Bulldogs found themselves pulling up reserves from the JV ranks last week just to be able to compete.
Turlock finally managed to move past its injury issues Thursday night in its Central California Conference home opener against Atwater High as the team hit the court with its health bar full. But while they might have been healthy, the Bulldogs were also rusty as they let the Falcons walk away with a 41-48 win.
“Atwater played well. We’re just getting healthy, I mean we were down to three players last Monday. So we had to pull up three JV players last week just to field a team,” Turlock head coach Mark Musselman said. “We’re just getting them back from injury. They came to practice last night and it was the first time we’ve had healthy bodies at practice in three weeks.”
Turlock started strong with the help of Caitlyn Duval, the senior transfer from Central Catholic High who played aggressively on both defense and offense. Sianna Cruz also came up big on offense as she sunk three treys through the game, the second of which gave the Bulldogs a 13-11 lead in the second quarter.
It would be Turlock’s final lead of the night, however, as Atwater responded with an 11-point run for a 17-25 halftime lead. The Falcons would not relinquish their lead for the rest of the night.
“They played well tonight. Atwater beat us tonight fair and square, but our girls played hard. We just had some mental lapses during the game,” Musselman said. “That’s rustiness from not being on the floor.”
The bulk of Turlock mental mistakes came in the second half as miscommunication and poor judgment resulted in numerous turnovers. Atwater’s Chynna Peterson was a key contributor to many of Turlock’s turnovers as well as she used her size to swat a number of balls and consistently came up with rebounds. Peterson was also a force on offense as she and teammate Heaven Mazon put up the majority of Atwater’s points.
Turlock nearly orchestrated a fourth quarter comeback as Victoria Acosta scored ten consecutive points as the clock wound down and helped her team pull within four points of Atwater, but the Bulldogs were unable to make it happen and were forced to watch the Falcons pick up their first league win.
“This was a good game for us,” Musselman said. “The girls improved offensively from what I’ve seen the last couple of weeks. We’re going to be competitive.”
Acosta finished the game as the highest scoring Bulldog with 13 points while Duval and Cruz both finished with ten point a piece. As for Atwater, Mazon finished with 11 points and Peterson finished with nine points.
Turlock’s next game will be played on the road against Merced High on Tuesday as the Bulldogs will look to snap a three-game losing streak.