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Pride girls undefeated in league after close contest with Turlock
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Pitman's Sofia Goldsmith keeps the ball away from Turlock's Kodi Nairn during the crosstown rivalry game Thursday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The first crosstown matchup of the season between the Pitman and Turlock high school varsity girls basketball teams took place Thursday night, with the Pride securing its third straight win by a score of 51-41 over the Bulldogs. 

Despite Pitman jumping out to a commanding 32-16 lead by halftime, Turlock made things interesting by outscoring their rivals 25-19 in the second half and pulling within 10 points of the Pride. 

“I say the same thing every time we play here that if we get out to a lead, they’re going to come back,” Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss said of the longtime rivalry. “It’s always expected because everybody’s going to fight hard until the end.”

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The Pride won 51-41; Turlock's Lexi Goularte searches for an open target during the game against Pitman (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Senior captains Abbie DiGrazia and Aleyah Higa led the scoring effort by the Pride, with DiGrazia tallying 20 points on the night and Higa shooting for 16. The four-year and three-year varsity starters, respectively, will play for Fresno City College next year and have high aspirations for themselves when it comes to basketball, Curtiss said.

“You can see how hard they work, and that helps us. They’ve been leading us all year,” he said. “We’ve struggled when we’ve been without one or without the other, but when we have both, we can be pretty good.”

The win pushed Pitman to 3-0 in Central California Athletic League play and 7-11 overall, but it wasn’t an easy victory by any means. Turlock fell to 1-2 in league play and 9-11 overall with the loss, which came just two days after COVID quarantines canceled their Tuesday game. Despite still playing without some starters on Thursday, the Bulldogs made the game close until the final buzzer.

“It’s always a good matchup when we get our crosstown rival,” Turlock head coach Erica Hernandez said. “This team’s a fighting team. We’ve had some setbacks, but it doesn’t stop us from continuing to practice and keep playing.”

Junior Emilie Snyder scored a majority of Turlock’s points with 17 — including four 3-pointers during the Bulldogs’ second half surge — followed by sophomore Chloe Wong who finished the night with 7 points. In the second half, 5 Turlock points came thanks to Pitman fouls.

“In the fourth quarter, we had some mental lapses and in the third quarter, we got a little handsy and got in some foul trouble,” Curtiss said. “But both of these teams are always going to play their hardest against each other and even if somebody has a big lead, you have to expect the other to come back.”

Next, the Pride will take on Gregori High in Modesto at 7:15 p.m. on Monday. On Tuesday, Turlock plays Downey High at 7:30 p.m. in Modesto.