Turlock (6-16 overall, 5-0 CCC) head coach Doug Cornfoot had been patiently waiting for a return of the defensive brand of basketball that was the Bulldogs' calling card and on Friday night they brought it, erasing all doubt about their preseason woes with a big home win over Pitman (11-7 overall, 4-1 CCC) High.
Both sides were 4-0 in the Central California Conference heading into the first meeting of the year with a grand opportunity to one-up the other, but in the end it was the shut-down defense of Turlock that made Pitman play out of sync.
Turnovers, missed shots and inconsistency on both ends cost Pitman and the Turlock Bulldogs took advantage of the miscues and handed the Pride their first league loss of the year, 53-45.
“Things are just starting to fall into place for us you know… we've got guys shooting outside which we weren’t early on and we are handling the pressure better. Seeing all the teams we have seen made us wiser,” said Cornfoot. “We are not forcing stuff and controlling the tempo.”
“You know that Turlock played a really good game… they played physical and they were able to play a good game all night,” said Pitman head coach Harvey Marable. “We were kind of like a bus stop; we were stopping and starting, then stopping and starting and just never had anything real smooth.”
Pitman found a rough patch in the game and never had an opportunity to get its two guards going in Jando Diaz and Isaiah Marable, who were held to a combined 14 points after Turlock's Oscar Moreno and Will Hilgen made it uncomfortable for the two standouts for Pitman.
Turlock have now held their last four opponents to 44 points or less, while scoring 50 or more during their win streak. The win also marks the fifth straight league victory and snaps Pitman’s win streak of five.
“I thought we had a great team effort, everybody played within themselves, nobody tried to overdo stuff,” said Cornfoot. “We have seen the bad side and we don’t want to go back there so we need to keep working hard.”
Hilgen led all scorers with 17 points and was arguably the most consistent player offensively for the night.
“Will played the best game of the year,” said Cornfoot. “We have not shot well, but we told them if they have it shoot it, that is why we play the game. Will has been all over the rim and tonight he got in a rhythm and hit some big shots.”
Pitman hopes to move forward after Friday night's game that resulted in their lowest scoring performance of the year.
Pitman trailed for the first nine minutes of action, before finally going up with the help of Leon Ohms who came off the bench and scored 11 consecutive points for the Pride in a three minute stretch during the second.
Less than a minute later, Turlock's Shawn Grewal knocked in a shot from inside the paint to go up by one and the Bulldogs went into the halftime on top, 27-26.
Isaiah Marable opened the third quarter with a corner three to take the immediate lead just 10 seconds into the second half and then the lead was extended to four but Turlock came back with a 12-4 run to go up 39-35 with 3:30 left in the third.
Turlock then went on to outscore Pitman 10-4 in the fourth quarter and held the Pride to only five points in the final 10 minutes.
“We had a heckuva first round, we are 4-1, one game out of first place and now there is a round 2,” said Marable. “We look forward to our next game; we will get back on track and work on it again to be in a position to take over next time we get a chance.”
Pitman’s next game will be on the road at Golden Valley at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
The next game for Turlock will be on the road in Atwater High at 7 p.m. Wednesday.