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Pitman, Turlock teams readying for league
Turlock boys basketball
Cameron Walker of Turlock High (left) fights off a teammate during practice drills last week. Walker is a returning player for the Bulldogs and is expecting a big junior season (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

The second season in the Central California Athletic League is right around the corner for varsity boys basketball teams and Turlock and Pitman are each hoping to finish better than they did a year ago.

Turlock comes off a second-place finish in the newly created CCAL last season, while Pitman placed last with just a pair of wins in their inaugural season in the new league. 

“We have four guys that are coming back from last year,” said THS head coach Doug Cornfoot. “A lot of the guys have been talking out there when they are out on the court and the bench is more vocal during the game. Instead of maybe sitting back and maybe not as involved, but for the 14 we understand that it is one team, it has been a surprise so far, and they have been pulling for each other.” 

Pitman boys basketball
A couple of Pitman High players practice drills. This year’s Pride squad is ready and expecting to best last season’s results, said head coach Harvey Marable (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

“This year we are working to be a player-coach team, so players definitely have more input at the start of the season of the status we are going to uphold this year,” said Pitman head coach Harvey Marable. “The morale is really good; they are excited and we are learning to work hard. We still have got work to do and we’re eager for what needs to be done.” 

Turlock’s 7-3 CCAL posting a year ago earned them runners-up in their inaugural season in the CCAL, while they also earned a playoff berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. 

Pitman lost six of seven to end the year and went 2-8 in the CCAL. The Pride had a 9-15 overall record, but are expecting to best last year’s outcome. 

There is a total of nine players that the Pride expect to bring back while they graduate just three.  

Turlock is fresh off a 14-13 overall season and swept through Pitman in their two league meetings. 

The Bulldogs won three of the last five games while they graduate five from a year ago.

Cameron Walker is one of the few standouts from a year ago for the Bulldogs squad. The team also boasts over eight players that stand over 6-feet tall. They have one sophomore up on varsity in Daniel Malagon. 

“We are going to rely on the younger guys since Cam Walker is just a junior as well,” said Cornfoot. “They will have to show and prove that they are ready to compete and they are not intimidated, but we will compete and see whatever happens will happen. I think we are ahead of where we have been at this time of the year in the past because we only have two football players.” 

Pitman will rely on a plethora of players, more than what Marable has been used to in the past. The 15 players on the varsity roster is comprised of 11 juniors and four seniors.  

“We have 15 on the team, it’s been a while since I’ve had that many,” said Marable. “Our schedule is going to let us know right away… we are going to be tested.” 

The roster for Pitman is made up of the four senior leaders, including Dylan Anderson among others. Josiah Frank is another standout who is returning for Marable. 

Pitman’s next game will be against Merced at home at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 2. 

Turlock will next travel to Central Valley High at 7 p.m. Dec. 3.