The Pride of Pitman came into their second game of the 38th annual Frank Godinez tournament against Laguna Creek — which had to forfeit their first round game due to Thursday's storm —with hopes of turning things around after a crushing first round loss to Beyer High.
Unfortunately for Pitman, Laguna Creek benefitted from the day off as they looked fresh and surged their way into the consolation final after topping the Pride, 53-43, on Friday night.
The Pride were held to under four points in the first period—again—and from that point on they played catch up against a Laguna Creek team that was led by the night’s leading scorer in Austin Smiley who finished with 21.
“We came out very hyper and aggressive,” said Laguna Creek head coach Mike Gill. “Then we had a low in the middle and tried to force things on offense and defense, but we are really just trying to figure out who we are.”
“It was like the first game,” said Pitman senior Branson Garcia. “We just didn’t come out with a lot of energy like the last game and it seems to be a problem lately so it just makes it tough to come back later in the game. We just have to find a way to start faster and be more aggressive right off the bat.”
Laguna Creek took a 13-4 lead as the first period concluded, with Pitman only making two shots.
Pitman ended the first half on a 15-13 run, but still found themselves down by seven at that point.
Led by Cyle Williams' 14 points, Garcia’s 13 was second on the team but it wasn’t enough for the Pride.
“We have to find something on defense and get things rolling there and get a bucket, something to get us rolling,” said Garcia. “I think we go down by a couple points and the other team gets lay-ups here and there but it starts to build up and by then, hopefully, we don’t give up.”
The Pride did anything but back away from the challenge as they came out in the second half with a fury.
The Pride made back-to-back buckets to start off the fourth quarter and found themselves down by only four at 36-40, but their inability to stop Laguna Creek’s offense was the nail in their coffin. The Pride watched as the Cardinals' Smiley added on six rebounds, five assists and seven steals.
“We found a rhythm and we were good, but then we went back to some things we were doing early in the game like those little tip balls that were turnovers,” said Garcia. “We need to learn to stay calm and composed, relax when we stay that close and not try to rush it.”
Pitman will next square off against the loser of Friday's McNair and Ceres High game at 1:30 p.m. today.