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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaKaden Keeran goes up against a defender during the Pintos’ loss to New Haven on Nov. 20.

NEW HAVEN— The season started off with a tough loss for the California Pintos boys basketball team.

The Pintos fell to the New Haven Shamrocks 49-37 on Nov. 20 in their first contest of the academic year.

In a low-scoring first quarter, the Pintos led 6-5 with less than a minute to go in the period. The Shamrocks took a 7-6 lead with around 10 seconds to go, but California retook the lead at 8-7 after a buzzer beater right near the basket by Hunter Berendzen.

In the second quarter, California led 10-7 early. New Haven cut the lead down to one point at 12-11 with 6:07 left in the quarter. It stayed a low-scoring affair, as the game was tied at 14-14 with 2:37 left in the first half. California retook the lead at 16-14 after another basket by Berendzen, but New Haven tied the game at 16-16 with around 1:20 left in the quarter. A three-pointer by New Haven with around 10 seconds left gave them a 19-16 lead heading into halftime.

In the third quarter, a three point play by Trevor Myers tied the game at 19-19 early in the quarter. New Haven retook the lead at 21-19 with around 7:00 left in the quarter. The Shamrocks then went on a 11-3 run, finally widening the gap to make it a 32-22 game with around 1:30 left in the quarter as the Pintos went on a scoring drought. A three-pointer by Myers made it 32-25 near the end of the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Pintos trailed 36-27.

California tried to fight its way back into the game in the fourth quarter, as the Pintos cut the lead down to six points at 43-37 with around 3:00 left in the game. New Haven responded by going on a 6-0 run to make it 49-37 with around 1:30 left in the game. Time ran out for the Pintos as they were not able to cut into the lead any further.

Head coach Brad Conway said the team played to its game plan in the first half of the game.

“I thought defensively, we did what we needed to do,” he said. “Offensively, I thought we got some good looks but the ball just did not fall for us.”

Conway said fatigue got to the team later in the game.

“Like I told (the players) in the third quarter, I thought we let fatigue get to us and that is kind of where New Haven started to expand their lead and got some easy baskets going to the hole” he said.

During the Pintos’ scoring drought in the third quarter, Conway said the team was missing shots it was making in practice.

“I think that kind of bummed us out a little bit, and that kind of affected us on the defensive end,” he said.

The fact that the team was able to cut the lead back down to single digits in the fourth quarter showed the team has a lot of grit, he added.

“I told them that I was proud of the way I thought we played really, really hard. We played with a lot of grit and a lot of determination, and I told them that if they keep playing hard like that and we play together, this is something we can build on,” he said.

Calen Kruger and Trevor Myers led the team with nine points each, and Hunter Berendzen added six points. The team went 5-12 from the free throw line.

The Pintos’ next game is at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 against Boonville at the Tri-County Conference Tournament at Blair Oaks.

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