In the much anticipated Central California Conference cross town games, the crowds are a little bigger, louder and that usually leads to an exciting matchup every time.
On Wednesday night, when Turlock and Pitman High met on the court for the first time this season in a bitter rivalry game, they gave the people a show, but not one they might have expected.
With a high league standing on the line and the final weeks approaching, both teams started off on fire in the first quarter, but a questionable call by the referees in the beginning of the second along with a 24-8 surge by Turlock’s Kenny Fraser and company was enough to hold on to a 60-53 win.
“We got out early and we ran a little bit, spread them out and looked to attack, and Kenny was able to finish inside,” Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot said. “That was our game plan. They switch everything, so we try to get inside and let Kenny do his stuff. It worked well in the first half.”
Fraser has been a beast in the paint all year long and was once more, as he tacked on another double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds to retain the fair share of first place at the mid-point of the CCC campaign heading into Friday’s rematch with Golden Valley.
“This game always gets you pumped up. It’s very emotional and the crowd is very involved. It’s crazy, I just played as hard as I could,” Fraser said.
The ‘Dogs led by 17 points after three quarters, but played a little off in the final eight minutes, while the Pride cost itself any chance to win the game during a flat and somewhat bizarre second quarter.
Pitman head coach Harvey Marable wasn’t around to watch the bulk of the game. He was ejected 30 seconds into the second quarter when he picked up two technical fouls for arguing an over-and-back call against the Pride. When the call was made, Marable stepped onto the court to argue and was hit with an immediate technical. He was hit with the second whistle while sitting on the bench.
“The game was not decided by the kids the entire 32 minutes, and I think that time period took the flow out of the game and our kids suffered from it, unfortunately. But Turlock they played a good game and took advantage of the opportunities. It’s what you should do, take advantage of opportunities and they did it,” Marable said.
Turlock led 17-16 when the calls were made, but converted the two technical calls into two points, then Ryan Downs drilled a three-pointer on the ensuing Bulldogs’ possession for a 22-17 lead.
Pitman would get nothing but eight points in the second quarter while Fraser had 11 points in the quarter and the Bulldogs surged to a 39-22 lead in the final minute of the half.
The Pride's Cyle Williams had 11 of his team-high 19 points in the second half as Pitman tried to rally, but Anthony Moreno hit back-to-back three’s including one at the third-quarter buzzer to put the ‘Dogs up by 17.
Pitman played well on both sides of the court for the final quarter but it was too late despite outscoring Turlock 18-7.
“In the second half, well, even though we won I just told the kids that it was the worst game we played all year,” Cornfoot said. “Golden Valley will kick our butts Friday if we play like that. There was no focus. We breathed a sigh of relief after we got up 17. We relaxed and Pitman will play hard until the end. I’m glad we won but I’m not happy how we played.”
“We can play with anybody, we just need to keep our turnovers down and take care of the ball and I will keep my mouth shut,” Marable said with a smile and soft laugh.
Branson Garcia of Pitman finished with 13 points and one board but also held the burden of guarding Turlock star Fraser for a majority of the game and did a substantial job in the second half.
“In the second quarter I feel we sort of shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and got in that slump, which sort of killed us in the long run, Garcia said. “We did pick it up and start to play better in the second half but we ran out of time.”
Pitman will continue CCC play as they travel to Merced High next week with a starting time of 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
In what should be the biggest CCC boys’ basketball match of the year, Turlock will travel to Golden Valley as both sit atop first place in league for a chance to take over the number one spot with a starting time of 7:15 p.m. on Friday.