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Fourth quarter struggle leads to Pride loss
Pitman Basketball 1
Pitmans Sophomore Rayden Simmons goes up for a shot during the fourth quarter of Tuesdays 48-36 loss to Merced High. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

It’s been a very unfortunate season for the Pitman Pride varsity girls basketball team and head coach Dustin Curtiss.

First, their star player and last year’s Co-Player of the Year for the Journal Kaylin Randhawa is out for a bulk of the season, then on Jan. 23 it was official that senior Olivia Salafia was ruled out for the remainder of the year with a broken fibula and tibula.

If that wasn’t enough, junior Emma Tolliver was ruled out of Tuesday’s home league game with Merced after sustaining a concussion.

This led to the Pride’s 48-36 loss to second-place Merced after a fourth quarter where they were outscored 14-4.

“It looked like we just got a little tired, a little hesitant, we weren’t being as aggressive as we could, we still have a lot of youngsters out there,” said Curtiss. “They are trying to figure out how to finish and we are still getting to that point, but the only way to learn from it is going through the fire of it.”

Pitman started a freshman and sophomore along with a pair of juniors and a senior.

Things didn’t start off too bad for the Pride, who challenged the Bears from the start when they went up 13-10 after the first.

Merced rallied back in the second to take a 26-24 lead.

They kept their lead steady in the third, before the Pride tied it at 32-32 with 29 seconds left until the final quarter started.

The fourth didn’t fare so well for the Pride who went scoreless after the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

By then, Merced had taken a double-digit lead and never gave it up.

Pitman was outscored 9-0 at one point in the fourth and 14-4 in the final eight minutes.

“Coming in we were just looking to work hard and I thought we did work hard tonight, just some shots didn’t fall in late, but I thought we played hard,” said Curtiss. 

Merced improves to 18-3. One of their losses is to Turlock High.

The Pride go to 13-11 overall and 4-5 in their final season in the CCC.

They also shot 8-for-21 from the free-throw line.

Freshman Jessica Smith was the leading scorer for the Pride with 10 points.

Sydney Smith added seven points for the Pride.

“They are learning a little better after every game, but just a tough game like this against a good team and have to score late but we didn’t get it done,” Curtiss added. “It was tough, but the girls we did have out there really gave it their all.”

Pitman will next take on Buhach Colony on the road at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.