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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaCalifornia fell Dec. 18 to Southern Boone in a 55-42 loss.

ASHLAND, Mo. — The California Pintos boys basketball team (0-7) will continue to look for its first win of the year after a 55-42 loss Dec. 18 to the Southern Boone Eagles.

The Pintos had to dig themselves out of an early hole after a tough first quarter, where they scored only three points. The Pintos trailed 7-1 with less than 4:00 to go in the quarter and 15-1 with just more than 3:00 on the clock. The Pintos made their first field goal with around 1:00 before the second quarter after a basket by Bryant Davis made it a 15-3 game. By the end of the first quarter, the Pintos trailed 19-3.

Pintos head coach Brad Conway said he thought the team's energy was not where it needed to be in the beginning of the game.

"Defensively, I thought we were two steps slow. I thought we got some decent looks, but we are having a hard time putting the ball in the hole; there is a lid on it," Conway said. "I thought we knocked it off there a little bit in the second half. Tonight, I thought it was basically the one quarter. We dug ourselves a hole, and we kept fighting. Again, the kids are playing really hard. It is just we have to start limiting the mistakes and we (have) to start putting the ball in the hole. Our execution on offense — once we get in our half court offense — we are getting good looks, we just (have) to finish better."

In the second quarter, the Pintos trailed by 20 points at 26-6 with less than 6:00 to go before halftime. California then started to hit some shots and a stride, as the team went on an 8-0 run, making it a 26-14 game after a basket by Trevor Myers with just more than 1:00 to go in the opening half. Southern Boone hit a three-pointer with less than 1:00 on the clock to make it 29-14 at the halftime break.

In the start of the second half, the Pintos continued to cut into the Eagles' lead, peeling off a 7-0 run capped off by a three-pointer by Myers to make it a 29-21 game with around 6:00 to go in the third quarter.

Conway said the coaches told the players to try to get themselves under control and to not try to do too much.

"I thought that once we got that first bucket in the third quarter, it kind of settled us down and we executed really well," Conway said. "We also got some transition buckets in the second half, that helped us as well."

Southern Boone got its lead back up to 12 points at 33-21 later in the quarter, but California kept it down to 10 points at 35-25 with around 4:30 left in the third quarter. The Eagles led 46-33 by the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Southern Boone extended its lead to 15 points at 49-35. Again, the Pintos tried to cut into the lead as they got the lead down to 55-42 with less than 1:00 in the game, but the Pintos were not able to chip away any further, leaving the game with its final score.

Southern Boone made five three-pointers in the first half and three in the second half. Conway said the Pintos are allowing too much dribble penetration, and they are not able to get out to the shooters on defense.

"We have to do a better job of guarding the ball and not allowing so much deep penetration so our help defense does not have to close as far," Conway said. "It is something we are working on every day and we are looking at some other things, it is just doing a better job of on ball defense and I think that will help us with the close outs."

Trevor Myers led the Pintos with 21 points, followed by Bryant Davis with six points, and Garrett Burger and Calen Krueger both with four points each.

The Pintos' next game is at 3 p.m. Jan. 2 at Linn.

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