Pitman High’s girls basketball team was having trouble putting the pieces together before this year’s West Coast Jamboree. The Pride were putting points on the board and showing flashes of their talent but an inability to finish when needed put them on a downward slide into the losers' column.
Pitman, who competed in the Topaz Division of the tournament, entered the WCJ with winning aspirations as it searched for much needed confidence. Thursday and Friday didn’t go as planned, however, as Pitman lost to Concord High 47-43 and Dinuba High 50-47. Again the Pride showed their competitive spirit but failed to put together a finishing effort.
“We’re doing some good things but we’re still making mistakes,” Pitman’s Dustin Curtiss said after the Dinuba game. “There are signs of life and positive things happening; we just need some practice time.”
A combination of preventable mistakes, missed shots, and the struggle to keep Alex De Chari off the bench and in the post contributed to Pitman’s losses. With no practice time and an imminent need to notch a victory, Curtiss knew Saturday’s game against Mt. Diablo High would be very important for the season.
“If we can keep her out of foul trouble it should help us out quite a bit,” Curtiss said of De Chari. “We’re right there. We just need to get some momentum headed into league.”
After weeks of coming up short the Pride finally crossed the threshold against the Red Devils in the final game of the tournament, beating Mt. Diablo 67-17 in Pitman’s most impressive effort of the year.
“We needed it,” Curtiss said of the win. “They got some confidence and you could see it.”
With increased pressure on defense and more minutes on the court for De Chari, Pitman manhandled Mt. Diablo and gave its coach a late Christmas present. De Chari scored 18 first half points to help make it 42-9 at the half before being given the rest of the night off. After halftime, Cadey Riley took over with 15 third quarter points as she was assisted by her teammates, including Britney Leon who nailed three treys.
“We’ve been struggling from the 3 point line so it was nice to see those go in,” Curtiss said.
With their final pre-season tournament behind them, the Pride will now face Davis High in Saturday’s MMC/CCC Showcase before taking on Buhach Colony High on Jan. 8 in their league home opener.
“We want to build on this last game,” Curtiss said. “If we can keep that momentum going into Buhach it’ll be good for us.”