TURLOCK — Kayla Schumann was about 22 feet from the basket and set to fire, but then paused and scanned the court for an open teammate.
When none appeared, Turlock High's guard reloaded and launched a 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet as it ripped through the net.
"She has the green light to shoot the three," coach Salinda Maybe said. "She's got the range to do it, but we're still working on her confidence."
That shouldn't be a problem after Tuesday night, as Schumann had 17 points and the game-changing trey as the top-ranked Bulldogs rallied to top rival Pitman 50-40.
The crosstown showdown featured the only teams that had yet to lose a Central California Conference game — Pitman is No. 3 in The Bee's Stanislaus District rankings — and had the emotion you'd expect from such a matchup.
"We've been talking about this game all week, because it is the big game for us," said Schumann, 6 of 10 from the floor with two treys. "We all look forward to Pitman, but at times we get too excited."
There was plenty to get excited, for the players and the near-capacity crowd, with the game tied at 36 with 4:05 to go. Turlock was at risk, though, since three starters had four fouls.
Camille Roberts, one of those on the verge of fouling out, drove the lane anyway and banked in a shot to give the Bulldogs (16-4, 5-0) the lead. The next trip down the court, Schumann took a pass outside the 3-point arc and — after a pause — hit the huge trey.
"I was looking to run more time off the clock, but I saw no one else was open and the shot was there," said Schumann, who averages 12.5 points a game.
The shot was there because Pitman (11-8, 3-1) had dropped off the 5-8 junior, not expecting her to shoot. Pitman hit its next two shots to get within 41-40, but that's as close it got as Turlock scored the final nine.
Turlock center Candace Sakuda scored in transition, after the Bulldogs broke the press, and then hit a a 10-footer with the shot clock winding down. The Bulldogs then hit 5 of 6 free throws to wrap it up.
"So much of our game is about confidence," said Mabie, whose team has won seven in a row and 14 of its last 15 games. "The way we played the final four minutes, they're capable of doing that all game."
The Bulldogs were at a loss during the first half, as their usually potent transition game stalled against Pitman's aggressive play. Pitman's Jasmine Washington was the quickest player on the court, and her fast hands made Turlock's backcourt tentative.
The Pride pressured the ball from the moment Turlock inbounded, forcing the Bulldogs to burn 10 or 15 seconds just getting the ball across halfcourt. The defense was relentless, forcing numerous mistakes.
It also created the sort of game Pitman wanted, a lower-scoring affair. Turlock has built a reputation on scoring in quick succession, using the quickness of Schumann and Camille Roberts in the open court.
When those opportunities didn't appear, Turlock struggled to score off its half-court offense. It wasn't until the 5-9 Sakuda began demanding the ball near the basket that Turlock began to get comfortable.
Sakuda, who also had 12 rebounds, was 7 of 12 from the floor and scored 10 of her 15 points in the second half. She teamed with 5-6 Nicole Serpa (10 rebounds) and 5-9 Natalie Dykzeul (eight rebounds) — a pair of juniors — to give Turlock a 40-32 rebounding edge.
"We're not a tall team, but we spend a lot of time working on blocking out for rebounds," Mabie said. "These girls do a lot of things well. Good defense, good in transition, good rebounding. One of the situations we run into is that everyone brings their "A" game to play us. Pitman, Merced, Golden Valley ... we're at the top of everyone's list as a team to beat."
Pitman almost pulled off the upset, thanks to Washington's defense, but was betrayed by a poor shooting night. While Turlock shot 40 percent (20 of 50), Pitman managed only a woeful 24 percent (13 of 54).