Last year the Turlock High girls basketball team went all the way, winning the Central California Conference league championship. This year, with targets on their backs, the Bulldogs are being pursued by an athletic Pitman High team that is driven by the desire to avenge the three losses Turlock handed them a season ago.
The Pride is expected to be a serious contender again this season, returning with a handful of experienced players.
“I don’t know where we’re going to score but I know we have a lot more options than we did last year,” Pitman’s head coach Keith Larson said. “I think we’re pretty well balanced with a really good outside shooter, two very good guards, and, arguably, one of the best post players in the Valley.”
Pitman’s key to success this year will be its ability to develop and maintain confidence among its players who served as facilitators for last year’s offensive lineup.
“I need to build their confidence so they know the offense runs thorough them,” Larson said. “They’re going to be very fun to work with.”
Turlock will also have to build its team confidence. The Bulldogs come into this season without their top seven players from last year’s championship team. They will have to rely on their six seniors to overcome their inexperience at the varsity level.
“The teams in the past have taught this group how to work hard,” Turlock’s head coach Salinda Mabie said. “Even though some of these young ladies moved up from JV and some people aren’t aware of who they are, because they’ve seen the expectations and the goals we have, they are really stepping up.”
The Bulldogs will have to step all the way up to the plate if they are to continue their winning ways. The CCC is full of talented teams that are looking to prevent a fifth championship win for Turlock.
“Everyone is better in the conference this year,” Larson said.
“It’s going to be a very competitive CCC this year,” Mabie said. “I don’t see anybody going undefeated.”
The Pride will face their first test of the season on Monday against Modesto Christian High in Modesto at 5:30 p.m. The game will be the first indication of Pitman’s potential to accomplish their season goal.
“We’re after a conference championship just like we were last year,” Larson said. “These girls want it, they’ve never had it here and it’s been our goal since the last day of last season.”
Turlock’s first test will come Monday as well, when they face Turlock Christian High at 6 p.m. in their first step aimed at repeating history.
“We have a tradition; we’ve won four CCC championships,” Mabie said. “Our goal is to win another one.”
To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.