Last season Pitman High’s girls claimed the Central California Conference basketball crown for the first time in program history, posted a season’s best 11-4 record, and advanced to the post-season for the third year in a row. Now, the Lady Pride are back and ready to run the court again, equipped with new pieces to fit what they hope to be a repeat season.
Dustin Curtiss is the first new puzzle piece to Pitman’s 2012 plan. After leading Pitman’s junior varsity boys basketball team last season, Curtiss has assumed the role of head coach for the Pride’s girls. In his 7th season as a basketball coach, Curtiss is aiming for the ceiling and beyond—a quest that will be aided by some returners familiar with the challenge.
“The girls, they expect to win and they’re prepared to win,” Curtiss said.
Seniors Marisa Rouse, Jakie Kuharski, Alex DeChari and sophomore Cady Riley have filled Pitman’s leadership roles so far, providing the Pride with experience gained from last season. Riley, who accumulated significant varsity minutes as a freshman last year, will provide Pitman with speed and endurance while the 6-foot-1 DeChari is set to be an imposing presence at post for the Pride.
“She’s getting better. She works hard and she’s really committed herself to the game,” Curtiss said of DeChari. “She’s starting to dominate like she’s capable of doing.”
Unlike last season, DeChari will have a complement on the court in the form of Mackenzie Haslett, a six foot sophomore with energy to spare. Senior Sophia Garcia and first year junior Liz Segars join Haslett as Pitman’s newcomers who are expected to add a spark to the game plan.
“We’re getting better every day and you can see it,” Curtiss said.
Although the team is progressing, Pitman is still ironing out the wrinkles that come with a new head coach and new players. Still, the Pride have been able to control their inconsistencies on the court so far, having placed third in the recent Linden Basketball Tournament. With the start of the CCC season more than a month away, Curtiss and his girls are confident they’ll be able to position themselves as the team to beat.
“Their mind set from the very first day has been to win league again,” Curtiss said. “They’ve had that taste of success and they want to feel it again.”
Pitman hosts Chaves High today at 4:15 p.m.