No team wants to be playing its best basketball in November.
However, if you can pick up some wins and improve along the way, well, that's all any coach can ask.
It was a struggle at times, but Golden Valley advanced to today's championship game of the Cougar Classic with a 51-37 win over Atwater on Friday night.
Golden Valley will play Sacramento Burbank, which cruised to the title game with easy wins over Bakersfield Golden Valley and Buhach Colony.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The championship showdown is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
"We don't want to be great, yet," Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen said. "You want to see improvement and when we work on things, you want to take them into games and apply them.
"So far, that hasn't happened in our first two games."
Atwater (1-1) came out and took it to GV in the first quarter.
Alex Jenkins scored six of her team-high 10 points in the opening quarter as Atwater took a 14-9 lead.
Then Golden Valley picked up the pressure, and Atwater struggled against GV's full-court trap.
Turnovers helped Golden Valley start with a 9-0 run as GV outscored Atwater 20-6 in the second quarter to take a 29-20 lead at intermission.
"I don't know what happened," Atwater coach Jason Boesch said. "We panicked and it took us out of our game.
"They flipped the score on us. If we take care of the ball, we're fine."
Senior Shannon McMillin came up big inside for GV with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"That's her first career double-double," Thissen said. "We needed it with Becky (Morris) and Danielle (Valadaz) in foul trouble."
Porsha Grayson followed up her 21-point performance against Enochs with 14 points.
Atwater struggled with Jenkins in foul trouble. The junior forward spent most of the second half on the bench before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
"She was playing well," Boesch said. "That hurt. I don't know how many layups and put-backs we missed.
"Shooting 7 of 27 from the free-throw line can't help, either. We let it slip away."
Atwater will face Buhach Colony in the third-place game today at 1 p.m
Today's other tournament games include Bakersfield Golden Valley against Fresno Hoover at 10 a.m. and Fresno Central against Enochs at 11:30 a.m.
LOS BANOS 53
CLOVIS -- Jessica DeArmon scored 17 points to help Los Banos win easily in the Clovis Classic.
FREMONT -- Dalemesha Hill and Mercedes Lee both scored 13 points to propel Merced into the consolation championship of the Irvington Christmas Classic.