Team play helps Pitman net big win over Atwater

TURLOCK -- Pitman High coach Harvey Marable can usually count on the Pride's top scorers, guard Edgar Lopez and center Matt Lavender, to combine for 25 to 30 points each game.

In the first half Wednesday, however, neither player had scored a point -- but Pitman was still headed to victory.

Jaspreet Bassi and Dominic Romeo combined for 17 points in the first half, then Lopez got hot in the third quarter to lead the Pride to a 59-36 Central California Conference win over Atwater.

"We've got some kids ready to step in when we need scoring," said Marable, whose club led 25-13 at halftime. "Bassi hit some early 3s and Dominic ... he usually does a better job shooting, or he would have scored even more."

The Pride (18-5, 6-3) was No. 7 in the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings before the game, and the top eight seeds host playoff openers in two weeks.

Before the Pride can start celebrating, though, it has to complete a rough season-ending stretch of three games.

It starts Friday with rival Turlock (6-3, 15-10), which routed Pitman 62-37 Jan. 21. Pitman closes with Golden Valley (20-4, 7-2) and Los Banos (11-14, 5-5).

"Emotions are always high against Turlock," Marable said. "Add in that we're trying to get that home playoff game, and Turlock is trying to get in the playoffs ... it will be something."

Pitman is hoping for a team effort comparable to what it got Wednesday.

With Lopez being denied the ball and the husky Lavender in foul trouble, the Pride spread the floor in the second quarter to take advantage of the four ballhandlers it had on the floor.

That led to gaps in Atwater's interior defense, allowing Bassi and Nick Jackson to slash past defenders and giving the 6-foot-5-inch Romeo space inside.

Bassi scored the final five points of the first quarter, a driving layup and then a 3-pointer, to put Pitman up 14-5. He hit another trey early in the second quarter, then stole the ball and converted a layup on the other end to cap a six-point run that made it 25-11.

Pitman's halfcourt forced a fast tempo, favoring its quick lineup, and frustrated Atwater's overmatched guards.

The Pride continued to trap in the third quarter, scoring a quick seven points for a 34-16 lead. Lopez hit a trey to start the spurt -- his first points of the game -- and turned a mid-court steal into a layup for a 20-point lead.

Lopez, averaging 14 points per game,hit two more treys in the quarter and scored 13 of his 16 points in the period. After missing three shots in the first half, he hit 5 of 6 in the third quarter.

"He found his spot in the corner and, once he started hitting, he kept shooting it," said Marable, noting Lopez had sprained his ankle Tuesday. "He gives us a 3-point threat, along with Bassi."

Romeo, meanwhile, helped the Pride inside with 11 rebounds, while Lavender had eight. Junior guard Chase Torba had nine assists, finding teammates under the hoop and on the perimeter.

GOLDEN VALLEY 100, BUHACH COLONY 90, at Atwater -- Alex Fletcher (30 points) and Donte Scott (29) combined for 59 points, and GV needed all of them to hold off the Thunder (9-15, 0-9) in a CCC shootout. Hodari Peterson had a career-high 31 points for BC.

TURLOCK 59, LOS BANOS 41, at Los Banos -- In a battle of teams fighting for a playoff berth, Travis Souza and Eric Wetzel combined for 39 points to lift the Bulldogs over the Tigers. LB led 12-8 in the second quarter, before Turlock scored 15 unanswered points.

"This was a game we needed to stay alive," said LB coach Joe Barcellos, whose team was 19th in the latest power ratings. "We knew we had to have two of (our final) three to get in. This puts our back against the wall."

JOHANSEN 81, BEYER 75 (2 OT), at Johansen -- The Vikings (10-15, 6-2 Modesto Metro Conference) rallied from an 11-point deficit to force overtime, then went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line in the extra periods to top the Patriots (6-18, 3-5) in a thriller. Deven Cannon (6 of 6) and Jacob Guzman (4 of 4) combined for 10 of Johansen's 17 points in the extra periods.

Beyer's Bryan Garbez dominated inside with 32 points, but couldn't keep up with Johansen in overtime.

DOWNEY 49, MODESTO 39, at -- Yuji Williams (14 points) and Randy Estrada (12) combined to score 21 of their 26 points in the second half as the Knights (10-14, 3-5 MMC) pulled away.

MANTECA 58, CERES 34, at Ceres -- Nick Scheible scored 26 and the Valley Oak League-leading Buffaloes (21-3, 10-1) used a 25-10 third-quarter run to put away the Bulldogs (7-16, 2-9). The game was tied at 11 after a quarter, but Manteca limited Ceres to two points in the second quarter.

SIERRA 54, OAKDALE 37, at Sierra -- Christian Williams had 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Timberwolves (17-6, 9-2 VOL) used a 21-9 second quarter to pull away from the Mustangs (3-19 2-9).

SONORA 55, WESTON RANCH 53, at Sonora -- Aren Forster hit a layup with 20 seconds left, then the Wildcats (15-8, 8-3 VOL) played tough defense to escape with a victory over the Cougars (13-10, 8-3), leaving the teams tied for third place. Brenden Evans (19 points) and Josh Evans (11) combined for 30 points, and Sonora hit six 3-pointers.

EAST UNION 44, CENTRAL VALLEY 38, at Manteca -- Ricky Inderbitzin scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as the Lancers (4-19, 3-8 VOL) came back to beat the Hawks (9-14, 3-8). He was 6 of 7 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.