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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaCalifornia lost to Richland 88-79 on Feb. 15.

The California Pintos boys basketball team fell just short in its game Feb. 15 against the Richland Bears as the Pintos lost 88-79. The Pintos are now 7-14 on the year following the loss — this is the team's fourth loss in a row.

The offenses for both teams had it going in the first half as the teams traded the lead throughout. California led 9-7 with around 4:20 left in the first quarter after two free throws by Trevor Myers. Richland then took its first lead of the game after a three-pointer made it a 10-9 game with 3:46 in the quarter. Richland led 15-9 with 2:52 left to go in the quarter, but the Pintos fought back to tie it at 15-15 before taking a 17-15 lead after a basket by Myers with around one minute left. The Pintos expanded their lead after a three-pointer by Caden Kirksey made it a 20-15 game with 46 seconds in the quarter. California ended the quarter up two points with the score 22-20.

In the second quarter, both teams continued the success they had on offense. The Pintos led 25-22 thanks to a three-pointer by Trevor Porter with just over seven minutes before halftime. The two teams traded baskets throughout the quarter, and with 5:40 left before halftime, the game was tied at 30. The Bears took a slim 31-30 lead, but a three-pointer by Braeden Birdsong gave California a 33-31 lead with 5:13 to go before halftime. The Bears tied the game up again, this time at 33, before taking a 39-36 lead with 3:30 left in the quarter. A free throw by Calen Kruger made it a one point game at 41-40, but the Bears then went on a 5-0 run to make it a 46-40 game with just over a minute to go. The Pintos cut the lead down to four points at 47-43 after a three-pointer by Jordan Bondurant with around 30 seconds left before the end of the half. Right before halftime, Bondurant stole the ball and scored on the fast break to make it a 49-45 game, which stayed the score at halftime.

Head coach Ron Lebel said the team was focused on trying to get a few stops but committed a lot of fouls as a result. California committed 30 fouls in total on the night — 14 in the first half and 16 in the second half.

"It seemed like we did a lot of fouling, and they shot a lot of free throws," Lebel said. "We did not contain the ball really well. They got to the rim quite a bit in the first and second quarter."

In the third quarter, California started to struggle on offense and Richland took advantage of the opportunity as the Bears started to pull away. The Pintos found themselves down eight points early in the quarter as Richland started off on a 4-0 run to make it a 53-45 game with 6:50 to go in the quarter. The Pintos worked to cut into the Bears' lead. After Braeden Birdsong scored off an inbounds pass, the Pintos trailed 55-52 with 5:30 left in the quarter. But every time the Pintos scored, the Bears answered, and Richland led by 10 points at 66-56 with around a minute left in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Bears led 68-56.

California kept fighting to stay in the game as, with 4:48 left in the game, the Pintos cut the lead down to 75-68 after a basket by Garrett Burger. California was able to get the game back to within five points twice late in the quarter at 77-72 with 3:56 left in the game and later at 79-74 with 3:19 to go in the game, but Richland was able to do just enough to keep the lead down the stretch.

It was another close game — Lebel said the team has been in a lot of close contests this year.

"We play to the end (of games) all year long," Lebel said. "I am proud of our guys, we have been in a lot of close games. We are in a tough stretch where we are playing four out of five nights. They have been competing and chipping away, they have done a good job of just competing throughout the games all year long."

Along with fouls, California struggled with turnovers throughout the game, as the Pintos gave the ball away 20 times in the game.

Trevor Porter led the team with 23 points, followed by Trevor Myers with 20 points, Calen Kruger with 10 points, and Jordan Bondurant and Garrett Burger with eight points each.

The Pintos' next game is at 6 p.m. Friday at Tipton.

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