Wednesday marked the beginning of spring sports for a large portion of the Pitman girls basketball team after losing to the sixth-seeded Bella Vista in the first round of the Division II Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, 57-32.
It was their first postseason appearance since 2012 and the Pride had high hopes, but the Broncos of Bella Vista pulled away from Pitman after a 17-9 run in the second quarter.
As head coach Dustin Curtiss veered his team to an offseason, about 15 hours later he received a phone call from athletic director Dave Walls and it was shocking news.
“Dave called me while I was at home taking care of something with the house and said that the season was not over,” said Curtiss. “Obviously, after last night the girls were not expecting this, they had all their spring sports gear ready and I had to tell them to go back home and grab their basketball stuff.”
So the Pride (17-7) have a new life in the D-II tourney after Bella Vista (17-11) was forced to forfeit their win for playing an ineligible player, according to the section's director of communications Will DeBoard.
Bella Vista self-reported the incident to the section office on Wednesday morning shortly after learning of the player’s academic standing. DeBoard said the section didn’t hesitate to reverse the outcome and then granted Pitman its first-ever playoff victory.
“I would just say it is the first Pitman girls basketball team who have been in second round of playoffs,” said Curtiss. “Obviously, Bella Vista beat us but to advance in second round, we will look back and say it wasn't the best way to do it but we made it.”
Pitman now advances to the quarterfinal round, where it will face third seeded Elk Grove (19-9) on Thursday night. Elk Grove dominated Central California Conference's Atwater (18-9) with a tight zone, forcing 29 turnovers in a 70-32 victory in their first round meeting.
“Just something you don't expect will happen, but we will see what happens now. We get another game and hopefully we play more loose than we did against Bella Vista,” said Curtiss.
Dezmine Washington was the only player in double figures for the Pride with 10 points against Bella Vista.
Leading scorer Kaylin Randhawa had just six points and Olivia Salafia added seven points in what the team assumed was their final game of the season but seniors Mika Jimenez, Alize Tyler, Katie Willett and Michelle Robinson will get one final go.
“Hopefully, it won't be as stressful an environment so we can perform better than we did yesterday,” Curtiss added.
The road contest begins at 7 p.m. Thursday.