Turlock High fell short of orchestrating a fourth-quarter comeback Friday afternoon in its game against Inglewood High in the 15th Annual Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic, losing 53-58 in the first day of the four-day tournament.
The Bulldogs hit the court outsized and down a player with senior Devan Bains forced to ride the bench after receiving a flagrant foul in a matchup with Manteca High on Tuesday.
“We were outsized at every position and I think at first we were a little intimidated, then we got into the flow of running our offense,” Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot said. “Will (Hilgen) stepped up; Ryan (Downs) had a solid game. Everybody that we put in stepped up and played well.”
The Sentinels utilized the size disparity between them and the Bulldogs in the rebound game, forcing Turlock to try and make its shots on the first attempt. After taking a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, Inglewood dropped three consecutive three-point shots to open the second quarter before eventually entering the half up 22-27.
Turlock found its rhythm in the second half, particularly from the perimeter as Downs started to drop treys and cut the Sentinels’ lead. Inglewood didn’t relent under the pressure, however, and often matched Turlock’s treys with three-point plays of its own. But while the Bulldogs improved its offensive execution in the second half, they continued to struggle from the free throw line as they went 56 percent from the line.
“We’ve got to learn to make free throws, then maybe we’ll have a chance to win games like that,” Cornfoot said. “That’s kind of been our Achilles heel, right now early on. Our last game we shot free throws well, but not tonight.”
Downs went on to drain five treys through four quarters, the last of which was followed by a Ricky Heidelbach trey that pulled Turlock within two points of Inglewood with a minute left in regulation. But the Sentinels responded with four baskets from the free throw line and an easy layup to close the game out.
“We came out, we played hard and we did some good things. Here are some things we need to work on, but that’s why we play in these tournament,” Cornfoot said. “I was expecting them to bring a little more pressure, so when they didn’t I thought that helped us out a little bit because we’re not very deep and they weren’t as worn out as they would have been if (Inglewood) had a full-court press the whole time.”
Downs finished with 17 points and Hilgen finished with 13 points.
Turlock is now set to face San Leandro High at 10:30 a.m. today and will welcome Bains back to the court. Still, the Pirates are expected to be a tough challenge for the Bulldogs.
“San Leandro’s going to be another one of those big and athletic teams, so we’ve got to get into our transition offense a little quicker and play with confidence,” Cornfoot said. “We have a good opportunity to maybe get a win tomorrow."