The 41st annual Godinez Boys Basketball Tournament kicked off on Thursday with Turlock and Pitman High teams each hungry to reach the finale after the disappointing turnout last year.
By the end of Friday night, each squad was able to achieve that feat after winning back-to-back games in two straight nights in convincing fashion, respectively.
The Pride of Pitman went on to defeat Ripon then edged out Golden Valley on Friday night to earn a spot in the final, while the Bulldogs catapulted themselves into the final with victories over Franklin of Stockton and East Union.
“Last year we were young with only one senior and we kind of challenged the guys and let them know that losing sucks and you can see the maturity of the seniors that we have,” said Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot.
“I am happy, of course you are happy when your kids get an opportunity to win,” said Pitman head coach Harvey Marable. “There are areas where we need to improve on, so we are getting a lot of practice material to work on during our days off.”
After last year's turnout, each side knew what needed to be done.
It helped that a bulk of last year’s players returned and they showed their level of maturity during the tournament — for both Pitman and Turlock.
Pitman went on to defeat Ripon, 45-42, on Thursday night after a defensive battle then went on to handle Central California Conference foe Golden Valley in Friday night’s, 67-45, victory.
The Pride are currently 6-1 heading into Saturday's Godinez title game against crosstown rival Turlock.
“We’ve already got a glimpse against Golden Valley, I don’t care if we play Turlock, whoever we play in the final,” said Marable. “Whoever we play in the tournaments, we are playing to make it to the championship, and bottom line is we hope to work on what we can learn from our competition to get us ready for January and February.”
Turlock is off to a 4-0 start to the season after capturing two straight wins in the Godinez.
Turlock defeated Franklin of Stockton on Thursday night, 67-46, before handling East Union in a crushing 69-37 win.
“They are starting to figure out what it takes to win with all the hard work and starting to apply it and it’s fun to watch. Still makes me nervous with all the threes, but it’s fun to be successful,” said Cornfoot.
“Pitman is playing great ball so it will be challenge early on to see where we are at. I am really proud of the way the guys are playing and I hope we keep it up and understand that the hard work is paying off and playing good team ball,” Cornfoot added. “But with what Pitman has coming back as seniors and they are one of the teams to beat as well and it will be a good test for us and see if we can keep it going, hoping it is a good game.”
Turlock and Pitman will square off for the 41st annual Godinez Championship trophy at 6 p.m. Saturday.