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Lady Pride fend off Turlock in first meeting of season
The Pride's Cerah Moren earns a couple of free throws after being fouled on. Pitman won Turlock in a nail biting game 41-40. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Thursday night marked the first meeting of the season between Pitman and Turlock High’s varsity girls’ basketball teams and it didn’t disappoint.

The Central California Conference showdown between both sides proved to be a nail-biter after only a one-point difference and multiple lead changes.

Both sides were part of an intense first half that saw five lead changes after each side paved the way for arguably the most physical game both teams have been in all year.

With a tie ball game heading into the third, not much changed with momentum swinging for both sides but the Pride’s ability to knock down the shots in the later stages of the game proved too much and set up a strong conclusion for the home team.

Kaylin Randhawa had a team-high 12 points as the Pitman Pride won their fifth in a row over their crosstown rivals Turlock, despite Jaydon Williams’ game-high 17 point effort that ended at 41-40.

“Let me catch my breath first… we knew they were going to play hard, because they play hard regardless of their league record, they are a good team, they play hard,” said Pitman head coach Dustin Curtiss. “Luckily we made the plays at the end to win.”

“Both teams played hard tonight but Pitman shot the lights out and hit a bunch, they outplayed us by a point tonight,” said Turlock head coach Mark Musselman, whose team has now lost by one point in back-to-back CCC contests.

Both losses were against the top two teams in the CCC, Golden Valley and Pitman.

Pitman hit six three’s for the game while Turlock only made three.

The lady Pride are now 4-1 in the CCC, trailing only GV by a game and Turlock falls to 1-4 for the year in league.

“I am happy with the intensity they played even down five with less than a minute, but sooner or later these games are going to start going our way,” said Musselman. “We just need to believe and work hard… so far they have done that.”

Turlock was able to match the intensity of the game on the defense end but Pitman was just a tad better for the most part.

The Pride congested the paint and forced Turlock to take outside shots. Well they did, but they missed more than they made.

Eventually Pitman cruised into the third and opened it wide after Cerah Moren knocked a two in the opening 10 seconds of the second half to take a two point lead.

Pitman never trailed in the third quarter after they outscored Turlock 18-14, setting up a fierce final eight minutes of play.

“If you play hard then you have a chance, but we knew it would be a tight one coming in like it was,” said Curtiss. “Every day we talk about taking the next step and just getting better at practice and competing. If we keep building like that then we should be successful.”

Each side only scored six points apiece in the fourth quarter.

Williams opened the quarter with a basket to cut the lead to two at 35-33 with 7:43 left but Pitman’s Dezmine Washington nailed a three bucket to build the lead to four.

Turlock went on to hold Pitman to just four points in the final seven minutes of action, but they were unable to even come close to tying the game at the end.

Moren knocked a basket with 3:30 left for the Pride to go up 40-35 and Turlock’s Sarah Musselman retaliated with a basket of her own to make it 40-37.

Moren was then fouled and sent to the line with 13 seconds left after Turlock committed a turnover with their penultimate possession and made 1 of 2 to secure a four-point lead.

As time expired Hope Salsig heaved a long three-point shot with a lot of contact in the play as she made the basket, but time expired for Turlock as they fell for the second straight game by just a point and Pitman won their fourth straight CCC game.

“Really happy with the growth,” said Curtiss. “Because we have been fighting and I can’t be more proud after that perseverance with the loss to open league but since then we made a determination to play as hard as we can.”

“We have to be able to make shots and that is what I told the girls and hopefully we shoot well against Atwater so we will work on it, but we struggled inside, outside and we just struggled,” Musselman added.

Pitman’s next game will be a rematch with Golden Valley, the team that has given the lady Pride their biggest defeat of the season earlier in the year, with this game scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Turlock’s next game will be at home against Atwater at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.