History was made once again on Tuesday night between Turlock and Pitman High when the girls basketball teams were vying for the Central California Conference title.
For the first time in program history, both Pitman and Turlock were headed into the final game of the season tied for first in the standings — and for the first time they had the chance to crown the outright winner.
In the first quarter Turlock surged into a big lead and led by as many as 19 points. Pitman fought its way back in the fourth, however in the end, the 'Dogs held on for the win, 52-44.
“Turlock played really well. They deserved to win with how they played,” said Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss. “Obviously, it’s not the best thing to lose but I told the girls I couldn't be more proud of how they handled it. I was probably as happy as I’ve ever been in regards to how we fought back.”
“Going into the game today I told the girls to battle for it and I was blessed to have three CCC titles under my belt as a player and it’s nice to see it come back to Turlock,” said Turlock coach Candace Sakuda. “It’s different as a coach, I don’t know which was more exciting, but I was extremely happy for my girls because of how hard they worked.”
Turlock ended the regular season with a six-game win streak and improved to 20-7 overall and 10-2 in CCC.
Pitman fell to 9-3 in the CCC and 17-10 overall for the year.
Turlock's last win against Pitman was on Jan. 22, 2015, when they won 43-37. Since then, the 'Dogs have lost four straight to the Pride prior to Tuesday's victory.
Both Turlock and Pitman have dominated the CCC this year. Pitman had the second-best scoring defense while Turlock accumulated the most points scored in league after 11 games (630) and least points allowed as well with 439. Pitman was third in scoring offense.
Turlock showcased some of that offense early on in Tuesday's game going up 9-0 and leading 19-2 after the first ended.
By halftime, Turlock led 30-13 and the lead was cut to 38-27 heading into the fourth. However, Pitman overcame a 19-point deficit to cut the lead to three points late in the game.
Pitman trailed 42-39 with 2:56 remaining in the game before Turlock closed out the game with a 10-5 surge.
“We definitely came out high-tempo high speed from the start,” said Sakuda. “Then Pitman came out ready in the second half. I think they picked up the intensity on defense and pressured our point guards more with steals. They hadn't seen it the entire first half.”
Pitman's Kaylin Randhawa finished with a game-high 19 points. Turlock's Jaydon Williams finished with 14 points and Shea Williams added 13.
“It was definitely a team effort, they all came ready to play, no matter who came in, everyone we put in, the five on the floor worked hard and all gave 110 percent for their teammates,” Sakuda added. “It's kind of like a ‘finally’ moment, but glad it clicked.”
Turlock gets a winning record in league for the first time since the 2011-12 season and this is the first time the team is in the playoffs since 10-11.
It is also the first time both teams finish first and second, respectively, in league since the ‘10-11 season when Turlock finished 14-1 in CCC and Pitman followed at 12-3.
“The sun comes up tomorrow and we get back to work tomorrow,” Curtiss added.
Turlock and Pitman will both compete in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs beginning Friday with opponents and times yet to be determined.