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Defense leads Turlock past Atwater and atop CCC
Turlock girls basketball
Turlocks Jaydon Williams scores for the Bulldogs during their game against Atwater Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs won 65-50 which puts them in 2nd place in league behind Pitman. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

The Turlock High varsity girls basketball team is now atop the Central California Conference standings after Tuesday’s 65-50 win over Atwater High.

“We are playing well right now, but we have to come out and play every night,” said Turlock coach Mark Musselman. “The CCC is tough and everybody comes out to play and you get write ups in the paper and you get a bullseye on your back. I am confident if we play well we will be there at the end of things.”

Turlock’s record in the CCC improved to 6-2, while Atwater falls to 6-3. Pitman is currently in first place at 7-2 after defeating Merced on Tuesday.

“We just have to keep it up and keep working hard and keep up the pace up and intensity,” said Turlock senior Dezmine Washington.

Turlock’s defense has been the staple of the year and Tuesday was no different.

Alongside Dezmine was sister Jada and also the Williams sisters in Jaydon and Shea, who each contributed in the paint with their tall frames.

“Anybody that knows basketball, knows that the games are won in the paint, won or loss in the paint and we keep preaching that and defense,” said Musselman. “We have to keep the ball in the basket and finish. I thought we did a great job of controlling the paint tonight.”

Turlock was able to dictate the points in the paint by providing multiple second chance opportunities, along with over double-digit blocks for the game.

Jada scored a team-high 17 while Jaydon finished with 16 points. Dezmine added 13 and Hope Salsig finished with 10.

The Bulldogs led the Falcons 16-6 after the first and went up 32-23 at halftime.

By the end of the third, Atwater had cut the lead to four points thanks to Kelsey Valencia, who finished with a game-high 27 points for the Falcons.

From there, Turlock went on a 24-13 run to end the game atop.

“During practice we worked really hard on our defense and I am proud. I thought we played well on defense tonight,” said Jaydon.  “I am confident in our team. If we play how we did tonight for the rest of the season I think we have a chance.”

“We have five post players and it’s really beneficial,” Dezmine added. “Since we got down after the loss to Pitman, everybody has gotten much more aggressive and we knew Atwater was aggressive, so we just worked on it and came back out.”

Turlock’s next game will be on the road against Golden Valley at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.