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McNair shocks Turlock with buzzer beater in preseason opener
Turlocks Will Hilgen attempts a shot against his Mc Nair opponent Tuesday evening. McNair defeated the Bulldogs in the last 3 seconds with a 3-point shot. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Isaiah Harris of McNair dropped the game-winning three-point shot as time expired in the preseason home opener for Turlock High as the varsity boys basketball team started off the season with a loss.

After throwing the ball away on countless opportunities and trailing by six points heading into the fourth, coach Doug Cornfoot made a few changes to his lineup and then the team began to roll with the help of Mitchell Pryschuk, Mustafa Noel-Johnson and Habib Velasquez.

Ultimately it came down to a back and forth battle in the final two minutes of play after six lead changes and when Noel-Johnson gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead at 49-48 with 3.3 seconds, it seemed over, until a jumper from Harris fell through with just under a second remaining in the game to stun the ‘Dogs at home, 51-49.

“We kept battling but right now we were killing ourselves, too many turnovers and errors,” said Cornfoot. “Today was turnovers, we are running into ourselves and we were passing to guys not the best position to receive the pass and we were just passing over their head or below their feet and part of it is in a hurry to get rid of the ball.”

Turlock committed over a dozen turnovers in the first half alone and the struggles with controlling possession carried into the third quarter after going down by the end of the first half by seven.

McNair extended their lead by as many as nine points before the halftime break but midway through the third the Bulldogs took a one-point lead. McNair called a timeout right away and came out with a 9-2 run to close out the third atop by six.

The Bulldogs fought hard to get back into it, going on a 14-9 run heading into the final 30 seconds of play, taking a one-point lead but it only lasted a few seconds as Harris took away all hope for Turlock which was shocked after the buzzer beater.

Velasquez finished the night with a team-high 19 points and Ricky Heidelbach was second on the team with eight points.

“We picked up soft man to man and probably bad coaching on my part since I think we had a foul or two to give,” said Cornfoot of the final play. “We could’ve fouled them since I don’t think they were in bonus, but we also need to find leadership from that guy who will take over but it might take a little while.”

Thankfully for the Bulldogs, they still have the entire season ahead of them as they fall to just 0-1 after one game.

“We haven’t had too many practices with the holidays and stuff so mistakes we're making are correctable but we just need about three or four days of practice to work on and that is what we have,” said Cornfoot. “It’s a long season still.”

Turlock’s next game will be at the California State University, Stanislaus gym against Monterey Trail at 5 p.m. Saturday.