When Pitman and Turlock High’s girls basketball squads met earlier in the year the Bulldogs prevailed with a 42-37 win to make it their first and, unfortunately, lone league win of the year.
Without any playoff implications for either team, the ‘Dogs traveled to Pitman to take on the Pride in a cross-town rivalry game to end the regular season in a Central California Conference matchup on Tuesday night.
This time it was the Pride who would come out on top with a 59-42 CCC victory, their second of the season. Turlock ended the year on a five game skid.
“The biggest difference this time was that we brought more energy than the last time. We started all our seniors; they kept it up all game after that. Also, winning two of the last three is big and, hopefully, we keep building off that for next year,” Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss said.
“Pitman played a great game, they pressured us all game and we didn’t respond well to it and that was the difference in the score,” Turlock head coach Mark Musselman said.
In a downfall year for Turlock, the Bulldogs finished with a 3-24 overall record and 1-9 in CCC. Pitman finished 11-16 overall and 2-8 in CCC.
It was a combination of inexperience and inability to hit baskets for Turlock as the Pitman defense played a consistent full court press for majority of the game that led to 12 first quarter turnovers for the ‘Dogs—tallying 21 in the first half.
“We had 21 turnovers in the first half, which certainly didn’t help,” Musselman added. “I am confident the girls will come back and we will be ready for next year.”
By the end of the first half the Pride had pulled away to an 11-point lead at 31-20 after being tied at eight apiece in the opening quarter.
A 28-20 second half outburst by the Pride was led by senior Estephanie Torres, who tallied a double-double for the night topping out as the game's highest scorer with 16 points to go along with her 13 rebounds and two steals.
“The atmosphere was different...since it was my last game, I personally played my hardest I could the entire time knowing it is a rivalry game against Turlock and, honestly, I just played with all my heart,” Torres said as tears began dripping down her cheek as she spoke about her final game as a senior.
This proved to be enough as all shots and defense were on point for the Pride, along with the help of junior Cady Riley who finished second in scoring with 12 points and three steals. Eight Pride players scored at least four points.
As a team, Pitman finished with 16 steals and turned the ball over only 15 times, after averaging over 25 a game.
“I think our pressure was what helped us tonight, we came in with a lot of intensity and said we were going to press all night and see what happens. We haven’t done it very much and it helped,” Curtiss added. “The girls played free. If we play this way next year we will be dangerous, but we need to get there, these girls work extremely hard.”
Turlock will hope to work in a complete off-season program this upcoming year as they should return seven of the current 10 for next year.
“We will work on both offense and defense ...we were very limited this year on what we could do because we just didn’t have the time,” Musselman added.
Pitman will return eight of its players out of 10 for the next season.
“Turlock is going to be tough down the road, they are very young. We got eight coming back so we should be more familiar and it will help,” Curtiss said.