LINN, Mo. — The California Pintos girls basketball team (18-8) ended its season with a 57-48 loss to South Callaway (21-6) in the semifinals of the Class 3 District 9 Tournament, Feb. 21.
The game was close the whole way through, as the Pintos led 15-13 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the California offense struggled a bit against South Callaway's defense, as the Pintos were outscored 16-10 before halftime. The game continued to stay close in the second quarter, and California held a slim 22-21 lead with only a few minutes left before halftime.
South Callaway would take a 23-22 lead with just more than two minutes left, but the teams would soon find themselves tied at 24 with about a minute left. South Callaway would end the quarter on a 5-1 run to take a 29-25 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs outscored California to make it a 34-29 game in the third quarter. California would answer back with a run of its own, as the Pintos made it a 36-34 game with more than five minutes to go.
South Callaway responded with another run of its own to build a double-digit lead with the score 45-34 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter, thanks to a 9-0 run. But once again, the Pintos would fight their way back into the game as they ended the quarter on a 5-0 run to cut the lead down to six points at 45-39 at the end of the third quarter.
California showed its "never quit" attitude in the team's comeback attempt.
"It is the type of character and the people we have in our program. It is a 'never say die' attitude, it is a 'never quit' attitude," head coach Bobby Sangster said. "Our girls believe in us and that is the greatest thing a coach can ever get. It speaks to the quality of the young ladies in our program and what makes our program great."
In the fourth quarter, both defenses played tough as neither team scored until California made it a 45-41 game with around five minutes left to play.
In the final minutes of the game, the Lady Pintos would get within striking distance of South Callaway a couple of times as they got the lead down to four points on three separate occasions. But South Callaway had an answer every time and kept the lead throughout the final quarter.
After the Pintos made it a 52-48 game with less than three minutes left, South Callaway played some strong defense and ended the game on a 5-0 run to advance.
California struggled with turning the ball over in the second half. The Pintos had nine turnovers after halftime.
"We were making little mistakes and turning the ball over," Sangster said.
California made four 3-pointers in the game and shot 10-of-16 from the free-throw line. South Callaway made two 3-pointers in the game and shot 17-of-22 from the charity stripe.
Tristan Porter led California with 11 points. Makayla Schanzmeyer had 10 points, Gracie George scored seven points and Kalynn Irey tallied six points.
"I am proud of our season," Sangster said. "From a basketball standpoint, we learned a lot, we grew a lot."
Sangster said he hopes the returning players can learn a lot from this game.
"There was a lot to learn, a lot to sleep on, a lot to look at, and hopefully they can come back and hopefully this motivates them to be the best basketball players they can be," he said.