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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos girls basketball team started its season Nov. 30 with a 71-46 win over Osage in their first round game of the Tri-County Conference Tournament.

WARDSVILLE — The California Pintos girls basketball team kicked off its season Nov. 30 with a strong 71-46 win over the Osage Indians in the first round of the Tri-County Conference Tournament.

The matchup was a back-and-forth affair in the first quarter, as California led 11-7 with less than 3:00 on the clock. A three-pointer by Osage cut the lead down to one point at 11-10 with just less than 2:00 to go in the quarter. Osage then took a one-point lead at 12-11 with less than a minute to go, but the Pintos retook the lead at 13-12 with around 50 seconds left in the quarter. Osage then hit a three-pointer right before the buzzer to end the first quarter with a 15-13 lead.

The Pintos took control of the game in the second quarter, as Bailey Lage hit a three-pointer to give California a 16-15 lead to start the quarter. California trailed 17-16 with less than 7:00 to go before halftime but a three-pointer by Tristan Porter gave the Pintos a 19-17 lead with just less than 6:00 on the clock.

California then locked down Osage and went on a 22-1 run for the rest of the quarter. Thanks to a solid defense that forced six steals in the quarter, the Pintos held Osage to only three points in the entire period. California also had the three ball working for them in the quarter, as the Pintos made six three-pointers. California entered the halftime break leading 41-18.

Head coach Bobby Sangster said the team knocked some rust off in the second quarter and adjusted to what Osage was doing after the first quarter.

“Osage had already played a game this year and we hadn’t played a game; I think that had an effect on it,” Sangster said. “We adjusted to how they were (playing) to break our press a little bit and we hit shots.”

When it came to the number of steals the team had in the second quarter, Sangster said the players were putting a lot of pressure on the basketball.

“When that happens, that opens up opportunities for the girls to be aggressive,” Sangster said. “But really, the girls were making plays for one another, and that is the big key; that they were out there and giving it their all for one another and that is when good things happen.”

California extended its lead to 27 points at 48-21 early in the third quarter. KaLynn Irey scored the first seven points for the Pintos in the third, and a three-pointer by Tristan Porter made it a 30 point game at 51-21 with around 4:30 left to go in the quarter. Osage cut into the lead a little bit but by the end of the quarter, California led 55-33.

In the fourth quarter, California was able to improve its lead back up to 30 points with the score at 64-34 and less than 7:00 left in the game. The Pintos had the game firmly in hand for the rest of the quarter as they led 71-43 with less than a minute to go.

The Pintos defense continued to give the Indians problems as it added seven more steals in the second half. Osage was able to hit a buzzer beater three-pointer to give the game its final score of 71-46.

Tristan Porter led the team with 23 points, followed by KaLynn Irey with 15 points, Lauren Friedrich with eight points and Bailey Lage with seven points. The team made 10 three-pointers in the game and went 5-8 from the free throw line.

Sangster said when shots fall, it makes everything easier.

“That is what the game is about; you want shots to fall and when shots fall, you have so many more answers,” Sangster said. “It makes everyone’s lives a lot easier and that is how the game of basketball is supposed to be played.”

Sangster said the team learned after the win it has a lot to work on, but that is a good thing.

“We had a lot of spurts where Osage really took it to us and made a lot of good plays and really made us work,” Sangster said. “We have a lot to work on and that’s a good thing; we don’t want to be at our best right now. But if this is our starting point, I am really excited to see what this group can do.”

The Pintos’ next game is at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 against Southern Boone in the semifinal round of the Tri-County Conference Tournament. Southern Boone defeated Eldon 54-25 in its first round game.

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