The California Pintos girls basketball team won a dramatic game that went down to the final seconds Feb. 8 as it defeated the Skyline Tigers 58-55. California is 17-3 on the year and is now the No. 3 ranked team in Class 3.
Head coach Bobby Sangster said the team talked about having composure in the final minutes.
"It is a lot of chaos at the end of a ball game like that," Sangster said. "We talked about trying to read things, if a mistake happens, try to make a better play next time. A lot of stuff goes on in the last two minutes of a ballgame like that."
The Pintos trailed early in the fourth quarter, as they were down 42-37. A basket by Bailey Lage made it a 42-39 game with 7:30 to go. Later in the quarter, California trailed 45-41, but a three-pointer by Lage cut the lead down to one point at 45-44 with less than six minutes to go in the game. Skyline then scored to make it a 47-44 game, but a three-pointer by Trishelle Porter tied the game at 47 with just more than five minutes left in the game. Another score by Trishelle Porter gave California a 49-47 lead with less than five minutes to go. Skyline would tie the game at 49, but a basket by Makayla Schanzmeyer gave California a 51-49 lead with just more than four minutes left to play. The Tigers made it a one-point game at 51-50 with just more than 2:30 left to play, but Tristan Porter then made two free throws to make it a 53-50 game, with around two minutes left. California led 54-50 with around a minute to go, but the Tigers did not go away quietly as they scored with 36 seconds left to make it a 54-52 game. Two more free throws by Tristan Porter made it 56-52 with 15 seconds on the clock.
On its next possession, Skyline forced a foul and made two free throws of its own to make it 56-54. The Tigers then were able to steal the ball off the Pintos' inbound pass and forced another trip to the free throw line. After making the first free throw to make the score 56-55, the ball bounced off the rim on the second attempt and California was able to get the rebound. Tristan Porter then made two more free throws to make the score 58-55 with around two seconds left in the game. California was able to steal the Tigers' inbound pass around midcourt, but the game was not over yet, as the Pintos turned the ball over on a travel call after stealing the pass. Skyline had one last chance to tie the game but with only .2 seconds left on the clock, the Tigers' desperate three-pointer was no good and California walked away with the win.
The Pintos played strong defense from the start of the game as the team quickly jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter. The Pintos gave up just six points in the quarter as they entered the second quarter up 12-6.
Skyline was able to fight its way back into the game as the Tigers took a 15-14 lead with around five minutes left in the second quarter after going on a 9-2 run. Back-to-back baskets by KaLynn Irey gave California an 18-15 lead with around four minutes to go before halftime. The lead would alternate between the two teams in the final minutes of the first half, as both teams were neck and neck. California led 25-23 at halftime after a basket with less than a minute to go broke the 23-23 deadlock at the time.
Early in the third quarter, Skyline retook the lead on a three-pointer to make it a 28-25 game. The Tigers would extend their lead to five points at 30-25, but a three-pointer by Lage helped the Pintos cut into the lead to make it a 30-28 game with around five minutes left in the quarter. Skyline held its largest lead of six points with 4:22 left in the quarter and the score 34-28. California would keep it close in the final minutes of the quarter and a three-point play by Makayla Schanzmeyer made it a one-possession game at 40-37 with less than a minute to play.
California struggled with turnovers, giving away 19 in the game. Despite its struggles, California was able to overcome the turnovers in the win.
"We are tough," Sangster said. "We have a lot of toughness, we have a lot of love for one another and we are resilient and we continue to improve. That is something that championship teams have to have, they have to have that resilience. They have to have the ability to overcome any mistakes because you are not going to be perfect. We are all human and we are all going out there and trying the best we can, and today it was enough."
The Pintos played strong defense throughout the game, as they had seven steals and six blocks. Sangster said the team sacrificed and made good plays.
Sangster said, hopefully, the team learned a lot from the close game.
"Hopefully that we learned that we are not perfect but even though we weren't perfect, we were still able to come out and have success on the basketball court," Sangster said. "We are not going to have our best night every night, but if we stay together and we keep battling and keep fighting all the way to the end, then we will have an opportunity to win a ballgame."
Tristan Porter scored 11 points for California, followed by KaLynn Irey and Bailey Lage each with nine points, and Lauren Hill and Trishelle Porter each with eight points.
The team's next game is at 6 p.m Thursday at Boonville.