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Basketball teams go into season with hopes of success
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The Eagles' Marly Burton fights for the ball during a recent game against Turlock High. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

This season, the girls basketball teams in the Turlock area will experience many different changes.

Turlock and Turlock Christian will have a tougher schedule than ever before, while Hilmar, Denair and Pitman all welcome new coaches. But they all have the same hope, to do well enough to make their respective playoffs.

Let’s start with TC. The Eagles are coming off a historic season, one that saw them play in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championship. They return a good chunk of last season’s roster, meaning they won’t lack experience this season. But there’s one vital name missing from the lineup: Halie Bergman.

She’s the high-scoring, 5-foot-11 guard who went down with a season-ending knee injury early in Southern League action last season as a freshman. Last summer, she reinjured that same knee and will not play during the 2010-11 campaign. Bergman will hold down the role of a student coaching assistant, cheering from the bench and helping out during practices.

The Eagles are focused on a tough preseason schedule, which includes the competitive West Coast Jamboree and a couple out-of-town nonconference games in Oakland and Alameda that will help them prepare for league competition.

“Our preseason will be tougher than last year’s,” TC coach Edwin Santiago said. “It’s purposely designed that way to improve us and challenge us and help us not get too comfortable heading into the playoffs.”

Turlock coach Salinda Mabie had a similar mindset when she built her team’s schedule. Last season’s Bulldogs were knocked off from the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament by a much more physical team than the ones they see in the Central California Conference.

Turlock will also have plenty of experience, considering the Bulldogs welcome back four starters.

“They know that they’re always going to learn something,” Mabie said. “It’s a very promising season. If everyone is healthy and keeps improving, we can do some good things this year.”

Hilmar and Denair will also have challenges with new coaches this season in Don Inman and Eugene Drummond, respectively, as they will look to be aggressive in league play in hopes of landing playoff berths.

Pitman also has a new coach. Keith Larsen is the former Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball coach who decided to take the Pitman girls coaching gig to be closer to his two daughters, who will be at Pitman High the next few years. The Pride will also be a challenge, considering they have back the reigning CCC MVP, Jasmine Washington.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.