The Pitman High School Girls’ Basketball team came up short Tuesday night in their quest for victory in the first Central California Conference game of the season, falling to the Atwater High School Falcons 54-44.
The Pride came into their first league match fresh off a successful Pitman Holiday Classic tournament, where they took home the championship. The momentum wasn’t enough to secure a win against the Falcons, however, who have just three losses on the season.
“We kind of knew what to expect from them,” said Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss. “When they out-hustle you and out-effort you, they’re going to win the game. You’ve just got to tip your hat…and the next day go back and figure out how much harder you’ve got to work.”
Atwater jumped out to an early lead in the game’s first quarter, leading by as much as 10 points in the game’s first few minutes. Pitman fought back in the final minutes of the half, however, and after trailing 14-6 surged forward to take the lead, 25-24, thanks to consecutive hoops from Kaylin Randhawa and Olivia Salafia.
With the lead in their hands, Curtiss encouraged the girls at halftime.
“At halftime we just kind of talked about how we weren’t playing very well, but had the lead,” said Curtiss. “If we started playing well, then we could expand on that lead.”
The Pride came back onto the court in the second half with those words in mind, pulling away from the Falcons by way of a six-point scoring run led by Andrea Selkow to make the score 33-26. Selkow finished the night with eight points total; Randhawa led the charge with 19 total points while Salafia also tacked on nine.
By the end of the game’s third quarter, Pitman led Atwater 37-34. Their lead was cut short by a three-point shot from Atwater’s Jasmine Xiong and several key shots from Alondra Ponce.
“Obviously, we played better in the third quarter,” said Curtiss. “I wouldn’t say we played well but we played better.”
The seemingly effortless passing game that the Pride developed during the third quarter crumbled during the game’s final quarter, as the Falcons came back to score 20 points in the final minutes. The Pride was held to just 7 points.
“I think we thought coming off our last tournament where we won, we kind of had the mentality that we can just show up and play, and obviously that doesn’t work,” said Curtiss. “We’ve got to play hard the whole time. We learned a lesson the hard way today.”
After the 54-44 loss, Pitman is now 8-8 overall and 0-1 in CCC play. The Pride’s next game is against Golden Valley High School at 7: 15 p.m. Thursday in Merced.