Tuesday night will be the first of three battles this season between the Turlock and Pitman high girls basketball teams. The Pride players talked with excitement earlier this week about the upcoming matchup, adding that “we’re ready.”
Are the Bulldogs thinking the same way?
“A little bit,” senior forward Sarah McMullen said. “Kinda.”
Her coach, Salinda Mabie, had a more definitive answer: “Pitman isn’t on our mind right now. We take it one game at a time.”
It’s not like the Turlock players and coaching staff don’t have respect for their crosstown rival, because they do. For now, they have some business to handle. They will face nonconference foe Pittsburg High today at 3 p.m. in the MLK Shootout at Modesto Christian High.
Mabie says the immediate contest will be a mental challenge, as she hopes to build some confidence before the postseason. Keep in mind that the Bulldogs have been knocked off in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament the past three seasons.
Sure, the Bulldogs will take the Pride seriously when the time comes. This is the same Turlock team that has been a nearly unbeatable force in the Central California Conference, having won three consecutive titles.
The Bulldogs’ last league loss came in the 2008 season finale on Feb. 14. Ironically, it was to Pitman, Tuesday’s opponent. Since then, they have been a hard-to-beat team. Nothing’s changed this season, as the Bulldogs — like their archenemies — are 4-0 in the league standings to go along with a battle-tested 10-4 overall record, with those four losses coming against some top-rated teams.
One of those teams was Oak Ridge High, the reigning state champion in Division I.
The Bulldogs said their losses will benefit them later. In other words, the Bulldogs said the Pride are great opponents but they’re also just another team on the league schedule, with the annual meeting taking place at the Lion’s Den on the Pitman High campus on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.
“I feel like our team has gotten so much stronger, especially over the summertime,” point guard Camille Roberts said. “We’ve become such a strong team. I think it’s something we can overcome.”
Turlock’s league winning streak is at 28 games. Mabie said she doesn’t expect her team to keep that going, considering that all league opponents face each other three times after the departure of Los Banos High to another conference and division.
“I think it’s kinda of hard for us to overemphasis one game because you play everybody three times,” the Turlock coach stated. “I don’t predict anyone going through the CCC unscathed. It’s just too hard to beat a team three times.”
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