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Pitman squad eager for CCAL play
pitman girls basketball
Gracie Alves of Pitman High gets ready to pass the ball during practice. Alves is expected to be one of the Pride’s senior leaders (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Pitman High’s varsity girls basketball team could be the dark horse of the Central California Athletic League heading into the first year after the Pride return a bulk of their standouts from a season ago.

Leading the team is Sydney Smith as point guard and captain after being named co-captain as a sophomore last season. Smith will have a host of returners to help her succeed, said coach Dustin Curtiss.

“Obviously, we have a lot of experience coming back. Sydney Smith played a lot for us, Jessica Smith played a lot for us last year as a freshman, and Emma Tolliver started some games,” said Curtiss. “Ruby started almost every game at the post, so quite a bit coming back. We have to, obviously, replace Kaylin Randhawa and everything she did, but I think it will be more of a group effort this year. I think we can get it done.”

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Pitman junior Sydney Smith is expected to have a breakout season after leading her team to 16 wins as a sophomore captain (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Last year, Pitman went 16-12 overall and 7-5 in the CCC, taking third in league and earning a berth in the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

They fell to No. 4 Edison in a 79-46 first round loss, but they gained experience.

“You just move on and keep going, and everyone now with a year under their belts,” said Curtiss. “We are starting to see some experience come out and we are going to be able to supplement with the girls and group we have coming up.”

Some of the returners include Gracie Alves, Karen Kahlon, Ruby Randhawa and Tolliver.

Sophomores Emily Hanham and Jessica Smith are also back for coach Curtiss.

“We have a great JV group coming up, they won league last year and only lost two games all year,” said Curtiss. “We are looking for five of them to contribute quite a bit, and we moved a freshman up. I think the numbers we have that can play is going to help us quite a bit.”

So far, the Pride are boasting 14 total players on the roster.

The season goal is simple, but not easy.

“Our season goal for us is to get better each and every game,” said Curtiss. “We bumped up our preseason schedule, we have a tough preseason schedule playing Clovis West, Edison, St. Mary’s, a team from New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, so it’s kind of cool for the girls.

“We are not going to make marks or say we need to win this or that many games, but I think it is going to be if we get better after every practice, every single day, then by the end of the year, the goal to make a league title run will come with the progress.”

Pitman will host Buhach Colony at 4:15 p.m. Monday.