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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaKaLynn Irey goes up against a defender during the Pintos’ win in the championship game at the Hermann tournament Jan. 31.

HERMANN— The California Pintos girls basketball team finished in first place at the Hermann tournament after defeating Hermann 74-60 in the championship game Jan. 31. The team is now 16-3 on the year and is the No. 9 ranked team in Class 3.

Head coach Bobby Sangster said the Pintos played a great basketball team.

“I knew we were facing a fantastic opponent tonight. I knew that it was going to take all of our best game to come out here and put our best foot forward and compete with them,” Sangster said. “I thought that our girls really responded with a great answer. We were not perfect tonight but that is what good basketball teams do. We are getting better and that is just the game of basketball.”

California led after taking a 4-3 lead early in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, a three-pointer by Tristan Porter made it 8-5 with less than four minutes to go. Hermann then went on a 4-2 run to make it a 10-9 game. The game would be tied up at 11-11 until 2:11 to go in the quarter, when a basket by Lauren Fredrich gave the Pintos a 13-11 lead. Hermann tied the game at 13-13, but a three-pointer before the buzzer gave the Pintos a 16-13 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Pintos started the second quarter on a 5-0 run to make it a 21-13 game. Hermann fought to stay in the game as with less than four minutes to go, the Pintos led 26-23. Hermann got the lead back down to one point with the score 28-27 with around 2:30 left in the first half. The Pintos were unable to pull away in the quarter as they led narrowly 33-32 at halftime.

Early on in the third quarter, Hermann had taken a 34-33 lead, but a three-pointer by Tristan Porter helped the Pintos to retake the lead at 36-34. With the score at 38-34, Tristan Porter hit another three-pointer to make it a 41-34 game with 4:33 left in the quarter. A basket by KaLynn Irey made it a nine-point game with the score of 43-34 with around four minutes to go. Trishelle Porter then made a three-pointer that gave California its first double-digit lead of the game with the score at 46-36 with around three minutes in the quarter. The third quarter ended with the Pintos up 53-42.

Hermann made a push in the fourth quarter and was able to cut the lead down to five points with a 11-3 run to make it a 56-53 game with less than five minutes to go in the game. Two free throws by Bailey Lage made it a two possession game with the score at 58-53. With less than four minutes in the game, Hermann made a three-pointer that made it a 59-57 game. The game remained close in the final minutes. Free throws were big for California in the final quarter, as the Pintos made 19-21 free throws in the quarter to help ice the game.

Sangster said the Pintos had a lot of energy in the game.

“We had a lot of bench energy, we had a lot of on floor energy, we had a lot of girls play really unselfishly, and we had a lot of girls making plays,” Sangster said. “It wasn’t one specific thing. It is the team outlook, it is the love these girls have for one another, and it is just playing together.

In its path to the championship win, the team defeated Capital City 62-27 in the first round and Montgomery County 62-44 in the semifinal round.

The team set a Hermann Tournament record for most-three pointers made in the tournament with 25. Eight of those three-pointers came in the championship game.

Tristan Porter led the team with 22 points, followed by KaLynn Irey and Bailey Lage, each with 10 points for California.

Tristan Porter was named the tournament Most Valuable Player and Paige Lamm was named to the All-Tournament second team.

The team’s next game is at 6 p.m Feb. 6 at Smith-Cotton.

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