The Pitman Pride girls’ basketball team fell 64-51 to the McNair Eagles Tuesday night at The Lion’s Den in the first round of the Division 1 Sac-Joaquin section playoffs.
At half-time the eighth-seeded Pride led 32-27 but a short player rotation by head coach Keith Larsen and a lack of offensive execution led to a dramatic fourth-quarter collapse. With 7:15 left the contest was tied 44-44 when the ninth-seeded Eagles went on a 20-6 run to close out the road playoff win.
“It was really a fatigue factor and one of those all or nothing calls. In the playoffs you shorten your rotation but it just didn’t work out. The organization was there but finishing was a problem, especially with a shortened bench,” said Larsen.
Another problem for the Pride was missed free-throws. The Pride missed 17 free-throws in the contest and struggled with ball control, especially in the second half. In the second half alone Pitman committed 13 turnovers, leading to 13 McNair points off turnovers.
“I think we just ran out of gas and they went on a run,” said senior Jasmine Washington, who was the 2009-10 Central California Conference Most Valuable Player. Washington finished the game with 17 points.
Despite the loss Pitman played with defensive intensity and energy, forcing 16 McNair turnovers and altering dozens of shots.
“All in all I’m proud of the way we played. We were up by 10 over a team that good,” said Larsen.
An encouraging sign for the Pride was the play of junior Parmine Randhawa and sophomore Alex De Chari. Randhawa had 3 three-pointers and several strong takes to the basket, leading to 13 points. De Chari contributed 9 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pride finished the season with a 21-7 overall record and a second-place finish in the Central California Conference.
“This season was an absolute success, it was more than I could have imagined. All the things I had heard about coaching girls’ basketball weren’t true with this team. There was no drama and everyone worked together,” said Larsen, who completed his first season coaching high school girls’ basketball.
Looking back on her Pitman career, Washington was thankful for her experience.
“We had great school spirit, our fans were great. Not a lot of other schools have that,” said the senior.
In the last two years the Pride have gone 17-5 at the Lion’s Den. Washington averaged 19.7 points per game this year.
The Eagles leading scorer against Pitman was freshman guard Mandy Coleman, who had 26 points.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.