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First rivalry meeting of season sees Turlock top Pitman
T v P girls basketball
Turlock senior Sarah Musselman (1) goes up for a shot during the second quarter of Thursdays 45-32 win over Pitman. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Holding a team to 10 points or less per quarter has been one of the keys to success in the final season in the Central California Conference for the Turlock High girls basketball team. 

They continued that trend on Thursday when they hosted crosstown foe, Pitman, in the Bulldogs’ gym and held them to under their season average in league after a 45-32 victory.

“They play really good defense. I thought we’ve been playing pretty good defense lately. To give up 45 points is not bad, obviously, we have to score more,” said Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss. “We expected to be low scoring, but obviously we didn’t make enough shots.”

“They had a goal set for them that if they obtained that goal today, then they could have Friday off,” said Turlock head coach Mark Musselman. “They obtained the goal. A 13-point victory was the goal. We wanted a 13-point margin and they did that.”

This year also marks the final season in the CCC for both Turlock and Pitman, which will be moving on to the Central California Athletic League next season.

At the halfway mark of league play, Turlock sits in first place with a perfect 6-0 CCC record, while Pitman is currently in third at 4-2, losing only to the top two teams, Turlock and Merced.

After losing two straight, the Bulldogs have now won the past five games played. Pitman snapped a two-game winning streak, after winning four of their last five, prior to the loss.

“We’ve got a lot of room to get better. We had trouble in the third quarter, so we will work on that and keep working on defense,” said Musselman. “Hopefully, we get even better defensively… that is our goal, every night to get a little bit better.”

The consistency has been there for the ‘Dogs, who have held all six of their CCC opponents to 37 points or less.

During that six-game stretch, Turlock has outscored its opponents 345-187, winning by an average score of 58-31.

Heading into Thursday’s game, the Pride had an opportunity to tie with the ‘Dogs for first place in the CCC.

Turlock has focused on defensive output, causing offenses to struggle and play stagnant leading to points off turnovers.

They did that on Thursday, starting off in the first when they held Pitman to just one field goal.

Turlock led 14-7 after the first quarter and went into halftime leading 23-16. Pitman made just three shots from the field in the first two quarters.

Pitman kicked off the start of the second half with an immediate attempt to rally.

Olivia Salafia scored five quick points and cut the deficit to 23-21 after the first 70 seconds of the third.

Turlock outscored Pitman 11-3 in the third. They led by as many as 15 in the fourth and turned away a final rally by the Pride down the stretch.

The Pride had limited answers offensively after they were held to their second lowest offensive output of the season.

Kaylin Randhawa led all Pride scorers with 10 points and freshman Jessica Smith added eight points. Salafia finished with seven.

Turlock had three players who scored in double-digits. Jaydon Williams finished with a game-high 15 points. Hope Salsig and Jada Washington scored 10 points apiece.

“Our bench was into it all night long, somebody would come off the floor and they were all talking, so good team win,” Musselman added.

“Obviously, at our home court hopefully we play better offensively, but we just have to keep working,” Curtiss added. “There are goals we are still trying to reach, as far as the playoffs and stuff like that, so we have to keep playing hard every game and hopefully next we score a little more… it happens when you play good defensive teams.

“I think they played well within themselves, we just missed shots… we missed a lot of shots and they played good defense, and got us out of rhythm and then we couldn’t move the basket and next thing you know we lose by 13.”

Turlock will next take on El Capitan on the road at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Pitman’s next game will be at home against Atwater at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.