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Bulldogs reign supreme
Hubbards buzzer-beater highlights win vs. rival
PHS boys pic1
On his way up for a shot, Pitman High’s Matt Brodhag gets fouled by Turlock High’s Connor Pearson. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

In front of thousands of fans in one of the city’s most anticipated boys basketball games, Anthony Hubbard became a legend, as well as a baseball prospect. In a can‘t-believe-he-did-that moment, the Turlock High senior guard nailed a full-court shot to end the third quarter.

The near-capacity crowd looked at each other in disbelief until some of them noticed that the official still had his hands up after the buzzer sounded, signifying a legal bucket.

“That was a beautiful shot,” teammate Matt Ruesga said.

It was more than beautiful. The successful long-court throw capped off a dominant third quarter for the Bulldogs, who bounced back from a “lazy” second quarter to win 54-24 over crosstown rival Pitman High on Wednesday night inside the Pride’s gym.

Hubbard led the game with 15 points, with teammate Alek Carlson finishing with 13. Three other Bulldogs — Da’Shawn Holcombe, Ashton Richardson and Ruesga — finished with six apiece, while no Pitman player scored more than five points on this night.Instantly, Hubbard became a YouTube sensation. Or perhaps, if it falls into the right hands, his shot could find its place in the Holy Grail of amazing shot archives: SportsCenter’s Top 10. For now, he joked that it was also an audition for the Bulldogs’ baseball team.“If the coach saw that,” Hubbard said, referring to Mark de la Motte, “he might let me play.”

Until then, the Bulldogs basketball team still has lots of work left to do. The crosstown rivalry win, along with Friday’s 56-42 triumph over Buhach Colony High, keeps Turlock in first place in the Central California Conference with an 11-1 record (16-6 overall) with Golden Valley High. The league’s top two teams will meet for the third and final time on Feb. 16 in Merced.

On Wednesday, the Bulldogs were focused on the Pride, who dropped their sixth of the last eight games. Turlock jumped out to a 13-2 first-quarter lead before Pitman issued a comeback: Alex Madden nailed a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the second quarter to cut a once-troubling double-digit deficit to just 19-17 at halftime.

“We played lazy,” Hubbard stated about the Bulldogs’ effort at the time.

But the attitude of the Turlock players changed after a locker room speech by coach Doug Cornfoot emphasizing the importance of not letting the opponents slip behind their backs, among other things.

“In the second quarter,” he said, “we started turning our heads and losing sight of our man and we’d go for steals instead of keeping them in front of us. They just outworked us in the second quarter.”

Stepping up the defense created scoring opportunities, with the Bulldogs rolling out to a 31-17 lead five minutes into the third quarter. The surge didn’t stop there, as Turlock outscored Pitman 23-5 in that period, with Hubbard’s full-court fling at the buzzer making it 42-22.

The Bulldogs continued to punish the Pride in the fourth, holding them to no field goals and forcing them to earn points at the foul line. Pitman sunk just 2 of 14 free throws in the final period.

“We’re a defensive team, and defense is what we do best,” Hubbard said. “Anybody can score in the league. Actually, anybody in the world can score a basket. But it takes a special type of team, special types of players to stop them.”

At the end of the night, however, people were still buzzing about the game’s buzzer-beater.After he made it, Hubbard did not jump in the air or throw his hands up in celebration. His teammates ran to him and congratulated him for an unbelievable make.

“I never done that before,” he said, “not even in H.O.R.S.E.”

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