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PREP ROUNDUP: Martin’s big night lifts Pride boys over Bear Creek
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Pitman High sophomore Cole Martin scored a game-high 25 points and snagged eight rebounds in the Pride’s nonconference win over Bear Creek on Thursday (ALEX MORALES/The Journal).

Pitman High sophomore Cole Martin isn’t known to be the loudest in the room. Standing at 6-foot-2, there are many times where he is certainly the tallest, though. During the Pride’s non-conference basketball matchup against the Bear Creek Bruins (Stockton) on Thursday night, the lengthy guard made plenty of noise, scoring a game-high 25 points and snagging eight rebounds as the Pride edged out the Bruins by a 62-59 score.

Martin scored 16 of his 25 points in the first-half, going four for four from the field with a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter. 

Last season, Martin was a Central California Athletic League Honorable Mention after averaging 5.7 points and three rebounds per game. He explained that his increased productivity on the floor is a result of his teammates motivating him and hours of offseason training.

“I’m definitely more confident than last year. This is my second season, so I know what to expect. And watching my teammates like Avery [Sanchez] and all the guards workout, I knew I needed to up it a little bit in the offseason,” Martin shared. “Coming into this year, during the summer, I’ve just been putting in work with these guys. We have so many weapons and so many ways to score, it’s become so much easier for me to score. When we have guys like Avery and Justin [Anderson] drawing a lot of attention, they pretty much make the shots for me. It’s just catch-and-shoot.”

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Avery Sanchez brings the ball down the court for the Pride. Sanchez finished with 19 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists and had four steals on the night (ALEX MORALES/The Journal).

Sanchez and Pitman head coach Harvey Marable believe that Martin’s performance Thursday can be the start of a breakout season for the sophomore.

“Cole is amazing,” Sanchez said. “He works hard. He comes in and gets his work in, gets a great sweat in. Anytime I ask him to hop in a group with me to work out, he always says yes and gives 100 percent. This is just the start. Cole Martin, big sophomore season coming. Remember it. He’s coming out of his shell.”

“He is playing with a lot more confidence now that he has a year under his belt,” Marable added.

Martin’s first half scoring frenzy was especially needed Thursday as Sanchez, who came into the game as Pitman’s leading scorer by averaging over 20 points per game, was held to just four points through the first two quarters. The junior point guard eventually found his groove in the second half and finished with 19 points.

“It was just the way the game was flowing,” Sanchez explained. “I’m not here to score points, I’m here to win games. It’s not in the back of my mind. As long as we’re winning, we’re good. I eventually got it going, but my teammates are there to pick me up. I think I’m a better winner than I am a scorer. I like to do all the little stuff. I dive on the floor, I take charges, I get my teammates going. They make it easy for me, especially nights like tonight.”

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Senior Justin Anderson goes for a score during Thursday’s game against Bear Creek (ALEX MORALES/The Journal).

Sanchez also grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists and had four steals on the night.

“Avery is a player that doesn’t have to force anything, it’s just going to come to him no matter what,” Marable said. “No matter what a team does, his opportunities are going to present themselves, and he just capitalizes. And without the ball in his hands, he still makes an impact.”

The Pride improved to 10-3 on the year. They will be back in action today at Columbia College for another non-conference matchup, this time against the 6-8 Sonora Wildcats. It will be their last game of 2023. After the holiday break, they will ring in 2024 on Jan. 3 at home against Amador Valley of Pleasanton.



Bulldogs drop home contest against West

Though it was the Turlock High’s last boys basketball game before the Christmas holiday, handing West High a gift victory was probably not what coach Doug Cornfoot had in mind.

The Bulldogs (6-4) shot a frosty 25 percent in the first half and committed critical turnovers after regaining the lead late in the third quarter to hand the Wolfpack a 45-35 non-conference win Thursday night at Bulldog Arena. 

Turlock trailed 17-16 at halftime despite shooting 6-of-24 in the first half, with many of the misses coming from inside the paint.

“It wasn’t that the shots were that difficult,” said Cornfoot. “Their defense made them difficult because they jump so well.”

The Bulldogs were able to keep the game close because of their domination on the boards. They got several second- and third-shot opportunities to help keep them close.

In the third quarter, Turlock’s Mason Baker hit two free throws that made it 20-20. The senior guard then followed that with a short jumper that gave the ’Dogs a 22-20 lead with about four minutes remaining in the stanza. Baker then hit a 3-pointer with 3:25 to play that gave Turlock its largest lead of the contest, 25-20.

But West closed the quarter on an 11-1 run, highlighted by seven consecutive points from senior wingman Joseph Walker, who had a 3-pointer and consecutive layups after steals near mid-court.

“You can’t be sloppy against good teams,” said Cornfoot. “They feast on that run of adrenaline. We tried to make it up quickly and we ended up forcing some shots.”

Turlock opened the final eight minutes of play with a pair of free throws from Nels Johnson and a layup from Jeremiah Evans to make it 31-30, but Evans hit another 3-pointer to stretch the lead to four, and the Bulldogs would finish the quarter by missing 13 of their final 14 field-goal attempts.

The Bulldogs will see action again on Wednesday when they open play in the prestigious four-day Holiday Hoop Classic at Modesto Christian High School.

— Joe Cortez/The Journal