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Pride drops early lead to Merced
PHS girls pic1
Pitmans Morgan Renshaw splits two Merced defenders on her way to the basket. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Pitman High’s girls basketball team suffered its fourth straight loss Thursday night when they hosted Merced High. The Bears (2-3 CCC) rallied in the second half to overtake the Pride (3-3 CCC), finishing the game 42-38.

Pitman controlled the game early on, leading 12-3 at the end of the first quarter. Merced’s offensive schemes were ineffective and its players seemed disoriented as Pitman’s defense forced turnover after turnover. Alex DeChari’s inside presence and rebounding skills helped keep Merced off balance and open up scoring opportunities for Pitman. The Pride’s offense slowed in the second quarter but they maintained their lead going into halftime, 19-12.

When Merced returned to the court for the third quarter its defense came out of hibernation and took over. Pitman was unable to find the basket or push the ball down the court. The Pride’s offensive attack was hurt by the absence of DeChari, who had foul troubles all night. The Bears scored 15 points in the third quarter while Pitman only made one basket, a three point shot at the buzzer.

“We struggle when our post is in foul trouble,” Pitman’s head coach Keith Larsen said. “I don’t think there’s an issue about us not having opportunities, it’s just what we do with them.”

In the fourth quarter the Pride drained a couple three point shots to bring them within a point of Merced but they were unable to stop Merced’s Dalonna Jones in the paint or keep the Bears from the free throw line. Still, with a nearly scoreless third quarter and shoddy play in the fourth, Pitman was within striking distance at the end of the game. The comeback never happened though, as shots were missed and fouls didn’t go the Pride’s way.

“Sometimes they want it too much,” Larsen said. “We need to get them to relax.”

Pitman now finds itself a couple games behind Turlock High and Buhach Colony High in the CCC rankings. The Pride will attempt to close the gap when they travel to Atwater High on Tuesday.

“We need to make a run,” Larsen said.

To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.