Posing together, Pitman's boys basketball team and cheerleaders celebrate beating Turlock 62-48 (Ron Agostini).

Feasting in the Den: Pitman beats Turlock, closes in on outright CCAL title

Ron Agostini

TURLOCK – The most striking sight during Pitman High’s pivotal 62-48 victory over Turlock – which clinched at least a tie for the Central California Athletic League title – was where star Avery Sanchez was when the game was decided.

Seated. On the bench. Admiring his teammates.

“It was a huge effort from the guys,” said Sanchez, already Pitman’s career leading scorer as a junior. “My guys got me. I couldn’t be more grateful to have players like that on this team.”

 Don’t underrate Sanchez’s performance. The 6-foot-2 guard delivered 14 points and iced the victory with a hoop and four free throws in the final minutes. Fact was, he was more than happy to cede the spotlight to emerging sophomore Cole Martin (18 points), Justin Anderson (13 points) and off-the-bench hero Jaden Aghoustin (more on him later).

Pitman (18-7, 7-1) found itself leading only 30-25 midway through the third period when Sanchez walked to the bench with his third foul. Turlock (12-12, 5-3), still quite large in the Pride’s rear-view mirror, lurked.

 “We were right where we wanted to be,” Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot said.

But while Sanchez watched over the game’s next seven minutes, Pitman compiled a game-changing 23-12 run and led at one point by 19 points. Martin slashed to the basket and also netted a triple during his 10 points in that period.

Then there was Aghoustin, a senior reserve who morphed into one monstrous X-factor. Though he receives only limited playing time, he came out firing and buried three straight 3’s – two from the baseline and one from the wing -- as the Pride pulled away.

“He literally pulled us through the door,” Pitman coach Harvey Marable praised.

The Pitman boys basketball team gathers around coach Harvey Marable during a timeout while facing Turlock (Ron Agostini).

The victory, witnessed by a large crowd in the Lions Den, was an emphatic response to the Pride’s surprising loss to Downey on Wednesday night. That result buoyed both the Knights and Turlock, but those hopes were dampened Friday night. The chasers trail Pitman by two games with two games left.

“We knew we were better than that,” Martin said in reference to the week’s earlier disappointment. “Getting over that adversity shows that we’re the real deal. We proved that tonight.”

Turlock has made steady progress since its 59-43 loss to Pitman on Jan. 17.  Junior post Jeremiah Evans worked effectively in the paint and finished with 18 points while the Pride focused on containing Andrew Johnson (12 points) and Dutch Lawrence (7).   Evans managed only four points during the teams’ first meeting.

 “We couldn’t counter with 3’s,” Cornfoot said in reference to Pitman’s nine triples. “Against a good team, it’s hard to come back.”

Sanchez’s presence cannot be missed. He wears a headband to keep his blond locks out of his eyes, plus yellow sneakers and matching Garfield socks. “I throw them on as a reminder that no matter what happens on the court, I gotta be myself,” he said.

More important, he reacted to missing four of his first five shots by facilitating the Pitman offense and passing to teammates.  That trust, coming from someone who averages over 20 points a game, is a winning formula for any good team.

Pitman can close out an outright CCAL title by wins over either Enochs or Gregori next week.

“I’m not even talking about that right now,” Marable said when the co-title idea was broached. “Why add pressure?”

So far, Sanchez and the Pride have passed the test.


Pitman 62, Turlock 48

Turlock      8-12-12-16—48

Pitman      13-12-23-14—62

Turlock (12-12, 5-3)—Jeremiah Evans 18, Andrew Johnson 12, Dutch Lawrence 7, Izaak Saenz 6, Donovan Muirbrook 3, Nelson Johnson 2. Totals 17 9-13 48.

Pitman (18-7, 7-1)—Cole Martin 18, Avery Sanchez 14, Justin Anderson 13, Jaden Aghoustin 9, Abhiraj Cheema 8. Totals 21 11-13 – 62.

3-Pt Goals—Turlock 5 (A. Johnson 2 , Lawrence 2, Saenz), Pitman 9 (Aghoustin 3, Sanchez 2, Martin 2, Cheema 2). Team Fouls—Turlock 11, Pitman 9. Fouled Out—No one.

JV—Turlock 31-19