More than a win was at stake on Thursday night when Pitman hosted Turlock High's varsity girls basketball team, as bragging rights are always on the line when the crosstown rivals meet.
Eager for the victory, both sides played an extremely high tempo and physical game that swayed momentum for each team until the fourth quarter when Pitman took off.
Pitman's Kaylin Randhawa scored 10 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter alone as the Pride rolled into a critical Central California Conference victory, 53-44.
“She is pretty talented,” said Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss of Randhawa. “At the end, we usually go to the player we trust with the ball and Kaylin usually makes plays for us and (she) made plays for everybody tonight. She really took a step up and got everyone involved in a positive way.”
“It's a crosstown rivalry game and every year it is always like this, every year it is like this, no matter what our records are, no matter what the situation it is usually going to be a close game,” said Turlock coach Candace Sakuda. “There were a lot of things we didn't execute, like our defense.”
Defense has been the staple for Turlock up to this point, while Pitman has seen the opposite.
“I think we made a great effort to play defense all night long,” said Curtiss. “Our struggles in league so far are we lost a couple games where we had lapses on defense and tonight I knew we had to focus all night. If we got some stops then we could make things happen and that's what happened.”
In the first 24 minutes of the game, neither team found themselves in much of a rhythm as the lead never rose to more than five until the fourth quarter.
Turlock led 13-12 after the first quarter. Pitman turned things around and went up 23-19 at the half.
The Bulldogs of Turlock responded with a 13-7 run in the third to take the lead heading into the fourth.
“They (Turlock) picked it up to start off the second half, they got in the passing lanes and did all they could to keep us out of rhythm and that is credit to them,” said Curtiss. “They got after it and that is what I saw from them, great defense.”
However, it didn't last very long.
Cerah Moren of Pitman quickly put her team back up with two buckets in the opening 88 seconds of the fourth at 34-32 and from there it was a blurring surge from the Pride offense.
Randhawa scored 10 of the team’s final 19 points in the closing 6:18 minutes and the defense held Turlock to just 12 points while putting up 23 in the final quarter altogether.
“We were in foul trouble late and it was tough to play up on them but Kaylin had a great game and defensively we didn't step up,” said Sakuda.
Along with Randhawa, Olivia Salafia and Andrea Selkow played pivotal roles in the paint and made it difficult for Turlock to get easy baskets.
“We kept getting a stop after stop and then we got some baskets and when you get some stops it will allow you to go on some runs,” said Curtiss.
Selkow had a monster night with 10 rebounds, 10 blocks, adding a double-double and was one point off from a triple-double after finishing with nine points. Salafia added 10 points.
Turlock's top scorer was Jaydon Williams, who finished with 12 points. Dezmine Washington added eight. Jada Washington added seven.
Senior Shea Williams finished with four points and was subbed out in the fourth with 3:19 remaining after sustaining an apparent knee injury and never returned. Her ability to return remains uncertain according to Sakuda.
With the first half of league completed, the CCC is now wide open as Pitman and Turlock's league records stand identical at 4-2.
Turlock and Pitman are currently tied for second with four victories, just behind first place Atwater (5-1)
“This was a big one for us. League is going to be crazy, but it was big not to fall to three league losses,” Curtiss added. “Getting this one was big to finish the first half of league on positive note and stay close in the race.”
“Every team is going to come out and play their best against us. We have a target on our backs and we have to come out to expect a great game against everyone,” Sakuda added.
Turlock will host El Capitan at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Pitman will next travel on the road to take on Atwater for the second time this season after losing to them earlier this month, at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.