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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaPaige Lamm backs into a defender during the Pintos’ win against the Southern Boone Eagles on Dec. 18.

The game went down to the final minutes, but the California Pintos girls basketball team was able to hold on for a 49-45 win against the Southern Boone Eagles on Dec. 18. California improved to 5-2 with the win.

Head coach Bobby Sangster said he hopes this win helps the team's confidence go through the roof.

"They won this one," Sangster said. "They had to take the win from Southern Boone, and Southern Boone is a good opponent. We are happy to compete with them."

It was a low scoring first half as in the first quarter, the Pintos led 5-0 with 5:27 to go in the quarter. Southern Boone finally got on the board to make it a 6-2 game with 4:45 left in the quarter. The Eagles slowly cut into the lead and tied the game at 8-8 with 1:17 to go. The Pintos almost retook the lead at the end of the quarter, but the shot by Paige Lamm just rolled off the rim, and the quarter ended with the game still tied at 8-8.

The Pintos started the second quarter with a three-pointer by Tristan Porter to make it 11-8. It stayed a close game in the quarter as California led 13-12 with under 6 minutes left. Another three-pointer by Porter made it a 16-12 game, and later, the Pintos led 18-14 with under 4:30 to go before half time. California would end up trailing for the first time in the game when Southern Boone took a 19-18 lead with under 4 minutes to go. California tied the game at 20-20 with less than 2 minutes to go before retaking the lead at 22-20. Neither team could pull away though, as the Pintos held a slim 23-22 lead entering halftime.

California trailed early in the third quarter as they found themselves down 26-23. The Pintos cut the lead down to one after a basket by Makayla Schanzmeyer made it 26-25 with just over 6 minutes to go in the quarter. California then retook the lead after a basket by Maura Pardoe with over 4 minutes to go and the score at 27-26. Later, Porter hit another three-pointer to extend the team's lead to 30-26. Southern Boone stayed in striking distance as late in the quarter, the Pintos were up by only five points at 34-29. Near the end of the quarter, California got their lead up to eight points after a basket by Lamm made it 37-29. Southern Boone scored one more time before the end of the quarter, but California ended the quarter up 37-31.

The game had a dramatic fourth quarter as it went down to the wire. California started off with a 37-33 lead, which improved to 39-33 after two free throws by Trishelle Porter with just over 6 minutes left in the game. The Eagles fought their way back and, with just under 3 minutes to go, the Pintos led by just one point with the score 42-41. Southern Boone took a 44-42 lead with less than 2 minutes to go. Then, Porter tied the game at 44-44 for California. The Pintos defense got a big stop on a Southern Boone possession where the Eagles looked to retake the lead, as the Pintos forced the miss and came away with the rebound with 43 seconds left. The Pintos took a one point lead at 45-44 with 28 seconds left after Lauren Hill made a free throw, the result of her being fouled following her shot near the basket after she secured an offensive rebound.

The Pintos had the foul advantage in the second half as they forced Southern Boone to commit 13 fouls, while the Pintos only committed eight. This was quite different than the first half, where California had 10 fouls compared to Southern Boone's six. In fact, Southern Boone only had one foul in the first half until just under 4 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Sangster said the team's physicality changed in the second half, which was why the Pintos were able to force their opponent to commit fouls in the later stages of the game.

"We went in to score the basketball instead of trying to draw fouls," Sangster said. "It is that simple. We were physical with the basketball, and we shot to score instead of shooting to avoid contact and the officals called the fouls."

On the next possession, Southern Boone forced a foul of their own with 17 seconds left. The Eagles made the first free throw to tie the game but missed the second. Bailey Lage then got the ball for the Pintos and was fouled as she raced to the basket with 11 seconds left. Lage made both free throws to give the team a 47-45 lead. Southern Boone got one last look at the basket, but the three point attempt on the left side of the court fell short for the Eagles and Hill came up with the rebound before being fouled. Hill sank two more free throws to put the game out of reach.

Despite the win, turnovers were a problem for California — the team gave the ball away 18 times throughout the game. It was Southern Boone's defensive play more than anything that caused so many turnovers, Sangster said.

"They did a great job of applying pressure, and they are a great ball club, and it was a lot about Southern Boone and less about us," Sangster said. "They took us out of our comfort zone, and we just have to be better and be better prepared and we have to handle the pressure."

Porter led the way for California in the win with 15 points, while Lamm and Hill both contributed six points each.

The Pintos' next game is at 11 a.m. Dec. 28 vs. Clopton at Moberly Area Community College.

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