The Pitman High varsity boys basketball team came into Monday’s game ready to bring back their winning ways, and that’s exactly what they did. The Pride saw its five-game winning streak snapped on Friday at the hands of Golden Valley High, but they shook the loss off and managed to rally for a win againt the Merced Bears at home.
The Pride hosted the Bears in their third Central California Conference game of the year and after a very stagnant first half, including trailing by 10 after the third, they responded by rallying in the fourth quarter to win, 47-43.
“… every year, a team has a point where they need to take a stand and fight back from adversity and they did that tonight,” said Pitman Head Coach Harvey Marable.
“We went into this game knowing we had to work harder,” said Pitman senior Dom Von Waaden. “First half we didn’t work hard, but the second half, fourth quarter mainly… well, we started fighting more.”
Von Waaden finished with a team-high 16 points for the game, and most of his points came at the most crucial time, the fourth quarter.
In fact, 14 of his points came in the final 7:15.
There was a span where Von Waaden scored 14 of the team’s 21 points in the fourth quarter, including 12 of 17 during a five-minute span.
“The first half I wasn’t playing point guard and I thought that might have thrown us off a little bit,” said Von Waaden. “Since the guys at the top put a lot of ball pressure and it limits the view to see the court and then the fourth I started getting the ball on the wing off pick and rolls and things like that, and that just got me into it and knocking free throws as well.”
Von Waaden drained 9-of-9 free throws during his 12-point stretch in the fourth.
“I told them there was something we were looking for and obviously (Von Waaden) found it,” said Marable.
It came with the help of the entire squad, primarily on defense after allowing Merced to take a close 23-17 lead at the half.
Pitman had a lull in offense during the first half – and frequent turnovers — and stayed that way heading into the fourth down by 10 points.
From that point on, Pitman took over the game allowing easy transition points.
“We had 11 turnovers in the first half and one in the second half, and that showed that we took care of the ball more in the second half,” said Von Waaden. “Then we just started getting stops and getting scores. I had a few free throws and a three got us back into it. All that gets me into a rhythm too, so that was very important.”
The Pride outscored the Bears 24-10 in the fourth quarter, securing their second league win in three CCC contests.
The Pride are now 14-4 after 18 games.
Christian Williams finished with 14 points. Jacob Staton and Michael Anderson each added seven points apiece.
“Taking that loss to Golden Valley on Friday, just one game and technically we are still in control of our destination,” Marable added. “Merced has been doing really well and they are a well-coached team that makes it hard on us every year and we are one game out of first place and when you’re one game away from first place, you still have an opportunity to contend for the title.”
Pitman will next travel to take on Buhach Colony at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.