For the Turlock High girls basketball players, it’s hard to forget about what transpired on Feb. 25.
That’s because most of them were on that Bulldogs team that played against a physical Sheldon High team in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament at Turlock High, the kind of toughness they didn’t see much of during the regular season. That day, Turlock was outmuscled.
This season’s Bulldogs are determined to not let that happen again.
That might explain why coach Salinda Mabie built a schedule unlike the ones in the past. The nonconference competition is tougher. The Bulldogs will take a couple breaks from the Central California Conference — one they’ve dominated in the past three seasons with three league titles and two undefeated records — to play in the exclusive MLK Shootout at Modesto Christian High in mid-January and an unknown foe in Lincoln High of San Francisco later on in the season.
They’ll also play in the competitive West Coast Jamboree on Dec. 27-30, but will be in a higher division than last year.
Before all of that, the Bulldogs (0-1 overall) will travel to face Enochs High on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in nonconference action.
“We need to see new faces, and that’s important to us,” Mabie said.
This season, the Bulldogs are the favorites to win the CCC again. They return eight varsity players from last season, including seven seniors and four starters in Camille Roberts, Kayla Schumann, Nicole Serpa and Natalie Dykzeul. Schumann recently signed to play Division II women’s basketball with Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.
“Four starters, seven seniors — a lot of experience,” Schumann said. “It gives us a lot of confidence.”
But Mabie said she believes teams are improving in the CCC, with Merced High on the rise and Pitman High returning reigning league MVP Jasmine Washington. It’s also going to be difficult to repeat as champions, Mabie said, because teams will play each other three times this season.
“It’s not easy to beat any team three times,” she said.
The Turlock coach also said her team is “stronger, faster,” thanks to an intense offseason workout schedule that included running and weight training.
“I think they have all the capabilities,” Mabie said. “It’s a matter of them believing in themselves.”
“Some of the girls still need to work on the confidence part of their game,” she said. “They got all the knowledge and ability to play. Some of them still revert back to not sure if they can do it. We’re trying to get into their heads and say, ‘Hey, you can do it. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen you battle in practice.’”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.