League play has begun for local high school student-athletes but just before things start to really get going, one final showdown took place on Saturday at Buhach Colony's gym between the Modesto Metro Conference and the Central California Conference.
Pitman and Turlock high's varsity girls basketball teams each competed against a squad from the MMC — and the Pride and Bulldogs each brought home a victory.
“It’s fun to come in and see the MMC because they always have good teams,” said Turlock head coach Mark Musselman.
Turlock trounced Johansen with only seven players on the squad as they took home the victory, 53-22.
“These girls always play hard and they always give everything they have,” said Musselman. “This is a once in a lifetime group of girls. They genuinely like each other and they play for each other, not for me, but for each other. They are a great group of girls.”
Overcoming adversity with a roster that has slimmed down all the way to three healthy bodies up to this point, Turlock battled with all they had coming out with a fury in the first half, taking a 28 point lead at that point.
With the help of Sianna Cruz's 24 points, the Bulldogs of Turlock dominated the game from start, middle and end.
It also helped that the'Dogs committed only 16 turnovers for the game while they usually average about 25 per game.
They also added 12 steals for the game.
“We were working on trying to control the tempo, that was our thing and we didn't want to play at the other team's tempo because of our health,” Musselman said. “We didn't want to get into a run and gun. They just tried to control the tempo and slow down the pace but not be as passive.”
Mary Oliveira ended the game with the second most points at nine and added 11 rebounds.
Cruz finished with four assists and two steals to add to her game-high in points (24).
The Pride of Pitman handed Downey a loss after a second quarter surge resulted in the 45-36 win.
Pitman went down after the first quarter at 8-11, but the Pride went on a 14-3 run to take the lead by the halftime mark.
It was a complete team effort on Saturday as they spread the ball around and caused major turmoil for the Downey squad that couldn't sink anything.
The offense was kept at a steady, but quick pace and although the second half was nearly identical in scoring, the second quarter 14-3 run was enough to build a large lead and hand Downey its eighth loss of the season.
Whitney Barnes ended the game with a double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The MMC v. CCC challenge was a refreshing break for the local teams, which both saw losses in league play on Tuesday.
Pitman lost on the road, 38-43, against Atwater, while Turlock fell to Merced, 32-54.
Pitman will next host Merced High and Turlock will travel to Buhach Colony, with both games set for 7:15 p.m. Thursday.