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Pitman girls rally second half comeback over energized Bulldogs
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Alex DeChari battles with Turlock defenders as she attempts a shot during her final high school game on Thursday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

With post-season hopes gone, Thursday marked the final game of the season for both Turlock and Pitman High girls basketball teams. The Bulldogs, who experienced a season of struggle in 2012, were seen by many as the night’s underdogs, but with a lively crowd watching their final home game they hit the court with renewed spirit.

The Pride seemed stunned from the beginning of regulation as Turlock displayed an energized and fast paced attack that had been relatively absent all year. Senior Aubrey Glidden and junior Karly Schumann slashed Pitman’s defense in a first half that saw Turlock lead the whole way. By halftime the score read 33-20 in Turlock’s favor and an upset looked to be on the horizon.

“We told them to channel that emotion that they were feeling about it being the last game of their season and senior night all in one; they took that and ran with it,” Turlock’s head coach Michelle Bush said.

“I think we let the atmosphere take care of us in the first half,” Pitman’s head coach Dustin Curtiss said.

Unfortunately for Turlock, there are two halves in a basketball game. Whatever energy the Bulldogs possessed in the beginning of the game was noticeably absent in the second half. Spurred by the play of sophomore Cady Riley and senior Brittany Leon, the Pride orchestrated a second half comeback that culminated with a dramatic 58-52 victory.

“I told them before, and I had to reiterate at halftime, this is the last 32 minutes you’re going to play with this set of girls,” Curtiss said. “Usually we’re the team with the lead and we’re giving it up, so maybe that helped a little bit because they said hey, teams do that to us so maybe we can do it to them.”

“We had the mantra that this is it, and I think we might have gassed out a little early,” Bush said.

Turlock jumped out to its first half lead by scoring 11 unanswered points and notching steals, rebounds, and interceptions by the handful. Glidden was the leading force for the Bulldogs, scoring 11 of her 19 points on the night in the first half alone. Glidden’s effort combined with that of Schumann—who finished the night with 14 points— and freshman Mikayla Mabie gave Turlock a 17 point lead at its highest point and its fans a sense of destiny.

“I couldn’t be more proud of that young lady,” Bush said of Glidden. “She’s the whole package. Her ultimate goal now is to try and play for Stanislaus.”

“Turlock played a really, really good half. It’s probably the best half that I’ve seen any girls' team play,” Curtiss said. “They couldn’t miss, they were getting steals, they were getting rebounds, they were out hustling us to every ball, and so all credit goes to them in the first half.”

Pitman wasn’t going to just lie down, however. Instead, the green and silver opened the second half with a Leon trey and proceeded to outscore Turlock 16-6 in the third quarter. Seniors Marissa Rouse and Alex DeChari reinvigorated Pitman’s defense in the open court and under the basket and cut Turlock’s lead by one point by the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“We weren’t playing well so I really wanted us to fight back because I know that’s not how we play; we’re way better,” Rouse said. “We don’t give up and we showed that.”

With the defense back on point, Riley continued her offensive assault on the Bulldogs and paved the way for a season’s sweep of their rival with a 19 point effort. Leon finished with 16 points.

“It was pretty emotional, but we knew we had to win this last game so we went all out and played our hearts out,” DeChari said.