It’s that time of the year again — turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and the beginning of the high school basketball season. For Turlock and Pitman high’s boys basketball teams it’s a season of growth.
This year a young and inexperienced Bulldog team looks to defend their league championship from a year ago.
Turlock’s team boasts only two returning starters from last season’s championship run. The rest of the team consists of former JV players and two sophomores. Needless to say head coach Doug Cornfoot is expecting a lot out of his experienced players.
“Right now we’re just trying to find an identity,” Cornfoot said. “I don’t think we’re going to be as explosive offensively as we were last year.”
As their first game approaches the Bulldogs have been working feverishly to find their new offensive identity, something they must do quickly to compete with the depth of talent in the Central California Conference.
“Every team has improved over last year. I think it’s going to be a very competitive league,” Cornfoot said.
Of the six CCC teams, Golden Valley and Buhach Colony are projected to be Turlock’s stiffest competition. Last year it was Turlock and Golden Valley who fought over the right to be named league champions.
Turlock must first face and overcome Modesto High School today at 7 p.m. Modesto enters this season with a new head coach and a potentially improved team.
“We beat them twice last year but you never know what you’re going to get. We’re going in expecting them to be very good and then we’ll go from there,” Cornfoot said. “We want to get out and run and we want to be able to play defense; if we can do that the other things will fall into place.”
Pitman, on the other hand, has quite a few returning players from last year but like Turlock its team cohesiveness is still at the foundation stages.
“It remains to be seen, the differences between this year and last year’s team,” assistant coach Undrae Walker said. “This team has the heart; the desire to be better. They continue to work hard and demonstrate that they’re winners by heart.”
The Pride’s plan for this season is to come together as a single unit and challenge their cross town rival for the CCC championship. Pitman isn’t looking at Turlock or Golden Valley as their toughest opponents though. For a glimpse of their stiffest competition Pitman simply looks in the mirror.
“If they can gel I think they can compete with anybody,” Walker said. “The expectation is always to be top two in league, to make the playoffs and try to win more than one or two games in playoffs.”
Pitman’s first test this season will also be against a Modesto school, Modesto Christian High. The foundation game will be played on Monday in Modesto at 7 p.m.
“We’ll be overmatched in size; we’ll have to utilize our speed and our quickness to offset that,” Walker said. “When they play together we feel our chances are good.”
To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.