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Bulldogs top Pride ahead of season’s final stretch
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The Turlock versus Pitman varsity boys basketball game, originally scheduled for Friday was postponed until Feb. 5 due to COVID-19.

The Bulldogs took down the Pride 49-32 in the season’s first meetup between the two varsity boys basketball teams on Saturday, with Turlock High riding the win to the top of the league this week. 

With both Turlock and Pitman suffering league losses the night before to Gregori and Downey, respectively, the teams came into the COVID makeup game over the weekend eager to better their spot in the Central California Athletic League standings amid a four-way tie.

“We had this one circled on our calendar for a while and we knew it was going to be an intense environment, especially for a Saturday afternoon,” Turlock head coach Nick Nathanson said. “We had a tough one [Friday] but I was glad to see them bounce back.”

For the Bulldogs, bouncing back meant a high-scoring effort in the first period led by four three-pointers from senior Daniel Malagon, who had 14 total points during the game. Junior Gavin Cox tallied the most points for Turlock with 24 on the afternoon, while senior Michael Heidelbach scored eight points.

“We’re a very determined bunch, and the one thing I never have to worry about with this team is confidence,” Nathanson said.

The Pride didn’t make it easy for Turlock, however, with a strong defensive showing which saw senior Robert Salmon collect a team-leading 20 rebounds, two steals and force seven turnovers. Salmon also led Pitman in scoring with 12 total points, followed by junior Seth Vink with 10 and freshman Avery Sanchez with six. 

Following Saturday’s victory, the Bulldogs went on to defeat Enochs 47-30 on Monday and are now tied with Gregori for first place in CCAL standings at 6-2 in league. The Pride is now 4-3 in league play and in third place, and will face the Bulldogs again at 7:15 pm. Wednesday at THS. 

With just two games separating them as the end of league play approaches, the Bulldogs know it’s anybody’s game.

“We have the mindset of survive and advance. Every game from here on out is a must-win game for us,” Nathanson said.