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Second place clinched for Dogs in season finale win over Pride
Arik Bains of Turlock High finished Wednesday's game against Pitman with a game-high 20 points as the Bulldogs won 56-54. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

For the second time this winter season, Turlock and Pitman High varsity boys’ basketball squared off, only this time it was in the regular season finale and the final time competing in the Central California Conference.

Just like the first game played back on Jan. 19, this one was also decided by two points, only the game was played at the Bulldogs’ gym and with a fourth quarter rally they managed to win yet again 56-54, completing the season sweep in league matches with the Pride.

Turlock closed out the year on fire, winning five straight, including seven of eight, clinching the second spot in the CCC with a 9-3 record.

“We didn’t panic, we stayed within our system and kids ran the system and offense and you have to knock down shots when you’re open,” said Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot. “They were all with the flow of our offense. We stayed with what’s been working for us.

“We started off 4-0, we went on a 10-game losing streak and the thing that turned it around was we beat Patterson at Patterson High,” Cornfoot continued. “They are a good team and they started realizing we do better as a team and had some meltdowns at Merced and El Capitan, but when we got into league we really played well.”

Pitman closed out the year with an overall record of 18-9 and 6-6 in the CCC, placing fourth in their final year as they barely missed the playoffs.

“What can I say, we started off not the best. I was a little scared at the beginning, then when we took the lead in the third I thought we could get it, but credit to Doug and his team,” said Pitman head coach Harvey Marable. “They settled and fought and good for the people in attendance and the kids that participated.”

Arik Bains had a game-high 20 points for Turlock while Cam Sherwood dropped 18.

Senior Adrian Espinoza held Pitman standout Dom Von Waaden to five points.

“An outstanding defensive effort,” said Cornfoot of Espinoza.

Jacob Staton had 15 points for Pitman, while freshman Josiah Frank added 11 and Christian Williams finished with 10 points.

 “The league isn’t what I base our success,” said Marable. “I base it on all the things we accomplished and how we grew as young men, so much growth over the last few years, especially with what they do outside of school. I am really happy with that.”

The Pride also won three tournaments this year, a first in program history which included the Godinez Tournament Championship. Pitman defeated Turlock 47-24 back on Dec. 9 for the tournament finale.

“There were some good teams with some good coaches and one thing is we didn’t shoot the three well at all for the whole season and especially in league,” said Marable. “But overall, I also feel like I need to do a better job of teaching the concepts and we didn’t execute, but I don’t blame the kids. I just need to do a better job to get concrete.”

Turlock took an early lead after the first quarter, 11-5, then Pitman went on to outscore the Bulldogs in the second 11-10.

By the end of the third, the Pride had taken a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth and final quarter.

Turlock outscored Pitman 23-18 in the fourth quarter after a tremendous effort from Bains and Sherwood that saw them make critical baskets down the stretch.

Sherwood drained three shots from behind the arc while Bains went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute and a half.

“We competed in our league and Pitman beat some teams during the season that were good. GV beat some teams that were pretty good and we beat those teams,” Cornfoot said.

Turlock will travel to Modesto Christian for the first round of the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, with the game slated to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday.