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story.lead_photo.caption SubmittedKaden Keeran brings the ball down the court for the Pintos.

The California Pintos junior varsity boys team and the Tipton Cardinals had a close one Feb. 21. The Pintos fought hard but ended with a narrow 52-49 loss.

The first quarter started with Tipton on top 6-2 until California went on an 8-0 run, making it 10-6. The first quarter ended up tied at 14. The Pintos had eight total fouls in just the first quarter, while the Cardinals only committed two.

Brandon Kliethermes, the JV head coach for the Pintos, explained the team's guarding wasn't at its best and the Pintos struggled to keep the basketball in front of them.

The second quarter started with a 7-0 run for the Cardinals, making it a 21-14 game.

Kliethermes tried to encourage his boys in a timeout.

"I just told them it wasn't going to be easy. I told them the same thing before the game," Kliethermes said. "It takes hard work and a lot of energy, and we better wake up before we get in a real bad spot real soon."

The Pintos kept fighting to shrink the deficit to four points by halftime, with the score at 27-23.

The Cardinals got the first basket to start the third; however, Kaden Keeran answered back and scored seven unanswered points for the Pintos. The lead was short-lived after the Cardinals went on a 13-0 run, making it 42-30 with only 1:22 left in the third quarter.

The Pintos coach then called a timeout and tried to give his team some drive.

"We were down 12. We needed a big run in that last minute if we were going to give ourselves a shot to win in the fourth," Kliethermes said.

The Pintos didn't give up. They went on an 8-0 run to end the quarter at 42-38 with Tipton on top.

It was back and forth in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals were up by three with only four seconds on the clock. California desperately took a three-pointer resulting in a miss as time expired, finishing a tough loss for the Pintos.

Kaden Keeran led the team with 14 points, Karson McKinney led the team with four assists, and Will Pickering led the team in rebounds with nine.

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