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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California girls basketball team defeated Russellville 45-34 on Dec. 10, the Pintos’ Senior Night.

The California Pintos girls basketball team (2-2) triumphed over the Russellville Indians (2-3) 45-34 on the Pintos' Senior Night on Dec. 10.

In the first quarter, the Pintos took a 3-0 lead after a three-pointer by Tristan Porter, with just less than 7:00 to go in the quarter. With just less than 4:00 to go, the Pintos led 5-2; another three pointer by Porter made it an 8-2 game. With less than 2:00 left in the quarter, Russellville managed to make it a 10-6 game, but a third three-pointer by Porter increased the Pintos' lead in the opening period to seven points at 13-6, with less than 1:00 on the clock. By the end of the quarter, the Pintos led 15-10.

In the second quarter, both teams had trouble scoring — neither team was able to score in the double digits in the quarter, with Russellville outscoring California 7-5.

Two free throws for Russellville by Allison Schrimpf made it 15-12 early in the quarter, but California answered back with a three-pointer by Rylee Hees to make it 18-12, with just more than 6:00 to go before halftime. Russellville made it 18-15, with around 2:30 left in the half, and got the lead down to one point at 18-17, with less than 1:00 left before the break. A basket by Lauren Friedrich increased California's lead to three points at 20-17 just before halftime.

In the third quarter, both teams found a bit more success on offense. Bailey Lage got the scoring going for California as her basket made it 22-17 early on. California increased the lead thanks to a steal by Rylee Hees that led to a basket to make it 24-17, with just more than 5:00 to go in the quarter. California was able to get the lead all the way up to double digits at 27-17, but Russellville fought back and a basket by Camie Grayson made it a six-point game at 27-21. Russellville made it a little closer soon after, scoring to tighten the gap to five points at 29-24 with less than 2:30 left in the quarter, but California would lead 31-24 by the end of the quarter.

In the final quarter, Russellville got within four points after a basket by Grayson made it 31-26, with more than 7:00 to go in the quarter. With California leading by five points at 34-29, with less than 6:00 on the clock, a basket by Lauren Hill pushed the lead up to seven points at 36-29. California went on a 5-2 run right after to get the lead back up to 10 points at 41-31, with 3:00 left to go in the game. A basket by Hill gave California its biggest lead of the game at 43-31, with less than 2:00 left to go. A three-pointer by Allison Schrimpf helped Russellville cut the lead down back into the single digits at 43-34, with just more than 1:00 left in the game, but the Indians were not able to cut into the lead any more as time ran out.

Defense was a key reason for the Pintos' win; they had 15 steals in the victory and never gave up more than 10 points in one quarter. The Pintos avoided commiting a large amount of fouls, giving up nine fouls in the first half and just three in the second half.

Pintos head coach Bobby Sangster said the team did a good job of letting its defense carry the load.

"I know they are not happy with their offensive performance, but I hope they look back at it and are able to be proud of their defensive effort and proud of their ability to compete and be proud of their ability to get a win whenever it is not the prettiest," Sangster said.

While there were some times during the game where shots were not falling for the Pintos, Sangster said throughout the game, the Pintos were taking good shots.

"We were taking a lot of very good shots," Sangster said. "I was not having a problem with the shots that we were taking, but we have to be patient and we've got to get the shots that we need instead of the shot we just kind of like. We took shots by good shooters all night long and I don't have a problem with that. The girls are frustrated; they are trying to figure out how to play this game. We just have to do some little things here and there that we will see on film that will make thier lives a little bit easier for one another."

While it was not the prettiest win, Sangster said he hopes the win helps give the team some confidence that it can still win even when the players are having a bit of an off night.

"You are going to have to win a few games where it is not beautiful and tonight was definitely that," Sangster said. "Hopefully, it gives them a little confidence without the three ball falling."

Tristan Porter led the way for the Pintos with 13 points; Rylee Hees, KaLynn Irey, Lauren Friedrich and Lauren Hill each added six points. For the Indians, Camie Grayson led the team with 13 points and Allison Schrimpf followed close behind with 10 points.

The Pintos' next game is at 5 p.m. Tuesday at home against Hickman. The Indians' next game is at 6 p.m. Friday against Belle.

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