Pitman High’s basketball season wasn’t looking so hot before the beginning of the 33rd annual Ceres Holiday Tournament on Thursday. The Pride were riding a seven game losing streak; but a 41-34 victory over Oakdale High in the first round ended that downward slide.
Pitman continued its winning ways Friday night against Delhi High, beating the Hawks 56-42 and matching its highest scoring performance of the year.
“We’re definitely improving,” Pitman’s head coach Harvey Marable said.
Pitman opened the first quarter with 11 unanswered points as its players took advantage of a Delhi team that couldn’t get the ball in the basket. Senior John Hajadourian and sophomore Nick Mattos helped the Pride from the paint but it was the shooting exploits of sophomore Branson Garcia that really put Pitman ahead. Garcia, who finished the game with 27 points, nailed six shots from the three point line and kept Delhi on its toes.
“For a young guy, they are very confident with him,” Marable said of Garcia. “But it’s a team thing. Other guys do things to put him in position to have a game like he had today.”
Although Pitman controlled the tempo for the majority of the game the Hawks never retreated. Instead, senior Antonio Gonzalez and freshman Jose Cruz helped Delhi close the gap on Pitman’s lead and overtake the Pride in the final minutes of the first half. Pitman was able to make a shot in the final seconds of the second quarter to make it 26-25 but the damage was done; the Pride’s momentum was gone.
Delhi was unable to capitalize in the second half, however, as Pitman’s defense began to force turnovers and turn them into quick baskets. Team communication was on full display as the Pride outscored Delhi 30-17 in the second half.
“That’s kind of been a point of emphasis for us,” Marable said. “We’re not the biggest and we’re not the quickest team, so for us to be able to defend people we got to talk to make sure people are on the same page.”
Pitman must now face the tournament host Ceres High today at 4:30 p.m.
“Our goal is to enjoy this winning streak as long as we can,” Marable said. “It’s a bigger, more physical team we’re playing in Ceres so it’s a good challenge for us going into league.”