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Pitman beats Turlock in close battle
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Pitman's Bambi Kaur searches for an open target during the game against Turlock Tuesday evening. The Pride won 35-27 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Pitman High came out on top in a tough defensive battle against crosstown rivals Turlock High on Tuesday. With it being senior night and the last game at Pitman for the seniors, the Pride brought the aggression to make sure the seniors went out on a high note.

“We have a really great group of seniors,” said head coach Dustin Curtiss. “I felt really bad for Abby DiGrazia, she’s a four-year senior and banged her knee up a couple weeks ago. They gave a lot of time, three of them were with us when we won the league championship two years ago, and Abby for four years. I can only say positive things about our seniors.”

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Lexi Goularte brings the ball down the court and attempts to score for the Bulldogs during the game against Pitman (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The defensive tone was set right off the gate with both teams forcing turnovers and missed shots. After doing most of the scoring inside with shots to the basket, Pitman took a 5-4 lead into the second quarter.

While the second quarter still had aggressive defense, the teams started to come alive scoring a bit. Pitman jumped out to a 14-5 lead midway through the second, but the Bulldogs locked in on defense and started scoring in transition. The Pride went into the half with a 18-12 lead.

“Our team is just a fighting team and they don’t know what quit is,” said Turlock head coach Ericka Hernandez. “They keep fighting no matter what. They are a resilient team and I appreciate that they do that for me.”

The third quarter was similar to the second where Pitman jumped to an early lead only for Turlock to come back to keep the game within shooting distance. Guard Muskaan Kashif was able to find a stroke and knock down a couple of jump shots to keep the lead with the Pride. They went into the final quarter up 26-19.

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Pitman's Maddyn Hamasaki keeps the ball from her Bulldog opponent Macy Brandao as she works her way down the court (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Pride were up late in the fourth quarter and it looked like the game was all over, but the Bulldogs ramped up the defense again and forced turnovers on four straight possessions. They got it down to a one score game, but ended up committing a technical foul to give the Pride the opportunity to regain control. With time expiring the Bulldogs were forced to intentionally foul and Pitman knocked down their free throws to secure the 35-27 win.

“You could tell there were some first quarter jitters,” said Curtiss. “Usually, these games are like that. It was a really low scoring game; we found a way so I have to be happy with the way they battled and found a way to win.”

“We played lights out and they did everything we asked, it just came down to that we couldn’t make our shots,” said Hernandez. “They’ve been working hard and they just went out there and played their hearts out; I appreciate that.”

The Pride were able to ride the momentum into their final league contest against Enochs with a 65-44 win on Thursday, securing the Central California Athletic League title.

The Bulldogs defeated Downey, 28-24, also on Thursday to finish league in 4th place.