It is still early in the season, but the 41st annual Godinez Basketball Tournament gave everyone a glimpse of what to expect in the Central California Conference this upcoming year as three of the top preseason ranking teams squared off in the three-day journey — Turlock, Pitman and Golden Valley High.
Pitman and Turlock finished first and second, respectively, meeting in the finale on Saturday afternoon in a defensive battle that saw the Pride defeat the Bulldogs, 47-24, earning their second Godinez title in three years after winning it in 2015.
“I think the Turlock and Pitman game is always a mental thing, we didn't play how we did before,” said Turlock's Arik Bains. “Offense was shaky and our defense, that is a high scoring team and we held them to 47, but I think our offensive production just wasn't the same, we were not running our sets.”
“We just really played our game,” said Pitman's Michael Anderson. “We both came into the championship game at 2-0, obviously, but I think we were more prepared playing tougher competition in the first two games and we came on full steam and especially since we lost to them last year we came hungry and wanted that first win of the year.”
The Pride fell to the 'Dogs in both meetings last year, so they didn't forget nor take their crosstown foe lightly heading into the game.
In the tournament, Pitman was able to shut down a Golden Valley team in the semifinal, that is 5-2 through seven games, to a season-low thus far with 47. This after holding off last season's Trans-Valley League winners, Ripon High, in the first round 45-42.
“It was really interesting playing Golden Valley and Turlock,” said Pitman's Dom Von Waaden. “We played through all that. Definitely helped playing them beforehand, but everybody has us marked already, we know that. We know they’ve all been watching. Offense will always come with the defense.”
Pitman is currently off to their best start through eight games since 2008-09, when they also started at 7-1. That year they went 19-8 and 7-5 in league play. They started 6-1-1 during the 07-08 season and finished at 18-9-1.
“We definitely are making history. That is the mindset. I knew we were going to be a good team heading into this year, but we are trying to be the best in Pitman history,” said Pitman's Christian Williams.
Most wins in a single season in program history is 20 when they accomplished that feat in 2006-07, going 20-9 and 9-3 in the CCC.
“We are trying to chase history and be the best team we can be and I think we can do it,” said Pitman's Jacob Staton.
Turlock was coming into the game on fire to kick off the season, having won four straight. Prior to Saturday's first loss of the year, the Bulldogs had scored 63 or more points in four straight games while holding three opponents to 46 points or less.
Saturday didn't go that way.
It was low scoring in the opening quarter after the Pride took an 11-7 lead into the second, but the Bulldogs closed in on the Pride in the second with a 10-9 run to make it 20-17 at the half.
“Coming out at halftime we are a third quarter team, that is when we had a run usually, so coming out we just struggled,” said Turlock's Adrian Espinoza. “We came out flat. Didn't shoot well. We were running teams out of the gym prior to that. We just came in way too cocky and not ready and it showed.”
Pitman outscored Turlock 13-5 in the third to extend the lead to 33-22, then in the fourth, the Pride defense took it to another level while the 'Dogs seemed to just shut down offensively.
The Pride outscored the Bulldogs 14-2 in the fourth led by a Williams' game-high 16 points and eight rebounds. Anderson added 10 and nine boards. Von Waaden scored eight and tallied 10 rebounds and Staton scored six.
Turlock's top scorer was Bains with 13 points. Consistent double-digit scorer Cam Sherwood was held scoreless while Cameron Walker had two, Espinoza had three and Everett Johnson had two.
The Pride will next play in a tournament in San Ramon Thursday through Friday.
Turlock will travel on the road to take on Lodi High next at 7 p.m. Wednesday.