Daughters of Turlock squared off on the basketball court Wednesday night when Pitman High hosted Turlock Christian High in a pre-league clash of divisions. Though common conception would indicate that a Division I school should easily trump a Division V school, the Pride had their hands full with a scrappy Eagles squad who refused to bend to expectations.
After entering halftime knotted 19-19, Pitman and TC continued their aggressive and physical contest in a second half that saw the Pride edge out their opponents by just four points for a 44-40 final.
“A lot of people said, ‘Hey, good job. You guys played a D1 school’ and they had a lot of good things to say about it, but for us we really wanted to win that game,” TC head coach Edwin Santiago said. “We really went into that game not trying to say we did a good job, we were trying to win.”
Wednesday’s game was a back and forth affair from the first whistle. Pitman hit TC with a combo of stout defense and opportunistic scoring early, but the tide quickly shifted as the Eagles fought back for a 12-6 first period lead. Inaccurate shots and an inability to control their tempo hampered the Pride, and instead of jumping out to a sizeable lead as they had expected, they entered the half tied.
“We were playing really good defense to start—they didn’t score for the first five or 10 minutes—but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss said. “It seemed like every shot we were taking we were missing and every shot they were taking was going in.”
Pitman eventually regained momentum in the third period as they utilized its rebounding—both offensive and defensive— to take the lead position on the scoreboard. TC managed to again climb back within striking distance of Pitman’s lead, but with Mikayla Yagi and Victoria Vieira being forced from the court due to foul trouble, the Eagles failed to complete their second half comeback and pre-league upset.
“We picked up the intensity, got some turnovers, finally started making some shots, and stepped up to the line and made some free throws,” Curtiss said. “Our intensity level wasn’t where it should have been the whole game, but in the last minutes it was back to where it should have been.”
“For them, they definitely out-rebounded us. On the offensive glass they had more opportunities to put in their shots than we did on our offensive glass,” Santiago said.
Statistically speaking, free throw shooting proved to be the difference as Pitman scored 18 points from the line and TC scored 14—the four point difference.
Pitman’s Mackenzie Hassett led the Pride with 14 points while Cassie Balswick led the Eagles with 13 points.
TC continues its pre-league campaign today in a 7 p.m. home game against Millennium High where Santiago and his Eagles with work to improve their overall game before Jan. 6 start of Southern League play.
“Objectively, the way I look at it, as a team we got to do a better job rebounding and we got to do a better job on the line,” Santiago said.
Pitman, on the other hand, enters the second day of the Ceres Tournament with a 3:30 p.m. game against Modesto High where its girls will also continue with their growth.
“We’re a young group. I only have two seniors on the team with four sophomores and a freshman,” Curtiss said. “It’s a learning process for us and we’ve learned a lot of lessons. We’re learning as we go.”