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Defense shines as Bulldogs shut down Golden Valley
Megan Van Ruker attempts to score for Turlock as Golden Valley opponents surround her Thursday evening. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Thursday night’s home league opener for Turlock girls basketball couldn’t have gone much better.

The Bulldogs hosted the Golden Valley Cougars who had won the Central California Conference over the past two seasons, having gone 20-0 during that span, but this year seems to be different.

Already with two losses under their belt, GV felt the early pressure from a Turlock team that was coming off a loss of their own, however, none of it fazed the ‘Dogs as they came out and dominated the Cougars 45-21.

“We really are trying to focus on our defense because that is what sparks our offense. So we did a good job of executing the game plan we had on defense. I thought they did a great job tonight,” said Turlock coach Candace Sakuda.

Turlock held GV to just five points in the first quarter after they put up 12 of their own.

GV then outscored the ‘Dogs 8-4 in the second half, but Turlock still led at halftime 18-13.

Despite still playing without Pitman transfers Dezmine Washington and Jada Washington, who have sat on the bench since the team’s first preseason game, Turlock was still able to control the tempo with their current available players who have not disappointed all season long.

“That is the philosophy that we don't just have one star player because they are all stars,” said Sakuda. “With our numbers it is a little challenging, but that is why we try to push as hard as we can during practice so that the games are easier so that is our goal to push hard at practice and in the games.”

None of them let down the team.

Hope Salsig scored a game-high 15 points while sisters Shea and Jaydon Williams added 13 points apiece along with their ferocity on the defensive side.

“Tonight it was all about our defense. We had a great defensive performance from Megan Van Ruker and everyone on our bench,” said Sakuda. “It’s hard to pin point because the effort was spread out, which is great from a coach's standpoint to see them all contributing, not just one.”

Turlock allowed GV to score a total of eight points while racking up 27 of their own.

Of those 27 points in the second half, the Williams sisters and Salsig contributed with 25 of them.

Turlock forced over 10 turnovers alone in the second half and snapped a six-game losing to GV dating back to 2013.

GV had won six straight over Turlock prior to Thursday’s victory.

Turlock’s last win over GV came on Jan. 8, 2013 in a 49-45 final.

“We don't like to look too far ahead, because as a team you never know how things are going to go or how teams will play you,” Sakuda added. “So what we see is the next game and that is as far as we go and that is how we handle it.”

The next game for Turlock will be against Merced on the road at 7:15 p.m. today.