Devan Bains and the his Turlock High teammates aren’t ready to hand Golden Valley a third straight Central California Conference championship.
Bains scored 23 points and Kenny Fraser add 19 as the Bulldogs defeated the Cougars 62-53 in the conference opener for both teams on Friday night at Bulldog Arena.
With one big win Turlock (12-4 overall) proved the road to a CCC title is going to be a bumpy road for any team.
“This was a big confidence booster,” said Bulldogs coach Doug Cornfoot, whose team had lost five straight to the Cougars. “Everything we’ve read and heard, everybody we talked to said it’s Golden Valley and who is going to come in second. I think our guys took that a little personally.”
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The Bulldogs finished strong, scoring the final eight points of the game to pull away for the win.
The big story of the game was the officiating.
The referees started the game calling it tight and never relented. As a result there were 53 fouls called between the teams and 74 free throws. Turlock made 22 of 44 free throws.
“First I’d like to congratulate Turlock,” said Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter. “They won the game. They made more free throws than us. They won the free throw shooting contest. I don’t think the refs called the game in anyone’s favor. They called the game, but that was the worst officiating I’ve ever seen.
“If that’s the way games are going to be called I’ll quit coaching. Nobody should have to pay to come see a game with 74 free throws and 53 fouls. That wasn’t a basketball game. That was a free throw shooting contest. That was our (16th) basketball game of the season and that was an atrocity. There was nothing like basketball out there. Turlock beat us, but no way the game of basketball should be called like that.”
At one point during the third quarter as Bains went to the free throw line after yet another whistle, Hunter walked toward the scorer’s table and asked Cornfoot, “Is this fun for you?”
Golden Valley lost Josh Sykes after the reigning CCC MVP fouled out with 4:49 left in the game. The Cougars had four other players finish with four fouls.
“The way the game started out I knew it was going to be one of those long nights,” Cornfoot said. “I thought this was two of the top teams in the section, not just in league. You’ve got guys like Christian Carroll, Kenny Fraser and Evan Stillahn scoring on back-to-back-to-back baskets. At halftime we talked about just trying to keep our composure.”
With Stillahn and Sykes both on the bench with foul trouble, Carroll picked up the scoring with 15 of his 23 in the second half. He hit a 3-pointer to help spark a 6-0 run to start the third quarter that gave the Cougars a 32-25 lead.
However, Fraser and Bains got going for Turlock. The duo combined for all eight points as the Bulldogs answered with an 8-0 run to take a 33-32 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter.
The two teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 41-all.
The Cougars lost their cool in the fourth. After Sykes was called for his fifth foul he was hit with a technical on his way to the bench.
“We lost our composure, we broke,” Hunter said. “I’m disappointed in that. We had players break. I myself struggled with the frustration. It was all I could do not to get kicked out.”
Still the Cougars had a shot, trailing 54-53 with 2:43 left. Fraser came up big in the fourth, scoring 11 points in the final quarter, including six in the final 3 minutes.
“This was a good win,” Bains said. “We were ready for this. They were supposed to be the top team in league and we proved we’re going to be there too.”