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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos lost Jan. 28 to Wright City at the Hermann tournament.

HERMANN — The California Pintos boys basketball team (4-13) lost Jan. 28 to the Wright City Wildcats (4-11) 58-53 at the Hermann tournament.

It was a low-scoring affair in the first quarter, as the Pintos led 7-5 with just more than 4:00 left in the opening quarter. The Wildcats took a 9-7 lead with around 2:30 left in the quarter and the score remained the same for the final minutes.

A basket by Calen Kruger tied the game at 9 at the start of the second quarter and a three-pointer by Tagen Higgins gave California a 12-9 lead with around 5:30 left before halftime. The game was tied at 12 and later at 14 with less than 4:00 left in the first half. The Wildcats then went on a 6-0 run take a 20-14 lead with less than 2:00 left before the break. The Pintos answered with a 5-0 run, finished with a three-pointer by Trevor Myers, that made it a 20-19 game with less than 1:00 left in the first half. At the end of the half, the Pintos still trailed 20-19.

At the start of the second half, the Pintos still trailed by one point at 22-21 with just more than 6:00 left in the third quarter. Wright City went on a 4-0 run to make it a 26-21 game with just more than 5:00 on the clock, but the Pintos fought back to get within three points at 28-25 with around 3:30 left. A basket by Garrett Burger following a steal made it a 28-27 game with less than 3:00 left before the final quarter, and two free throws by Trevor Myers gave the Pintos a 29-28 lead. The game was tied at 31 as both teams traded baskets, and the Wildcats took a 36-31 lead with less than 2:00 left in the quarter. Once again, the Pintos fought back as they made it a one point game in the final minute. At the end of the quarter, California trailed 36-35.

In the fourth quarter, Wright City began to slowly pull away, starting the quarter off with a four point play to make it a 40-35 game. The Wildcats extended their lead to seven points at 42-35, but the Pintos did not go down quietly; a three point play by Myers made it a 44-42 game with less than 5:30 left in the game. The Wildcats answered by going on a 10-2 run to make it a 54-44 game with just more than 3:00 left before the buzzer. California cut the lead down to seven points at 55-48, but the Wildcats scored again to make it 58-48 with less than 1:20 left in the game. The Pintos were able to trim the lead down to five points at 58-53 with around 30 seconds left, but ultimately ran out of time.

Turnovers and other small mistakes hurt the team, as the Pintos lost the ball 16 times in the game. Pintos head coach Brad Conway said there was too much standing around on offense at times.

Conway said sometimes, the team plays out of control.

”We start playing too fast and our decision making is not real good and it leads to a lot of those turnovers,” Conway said. “We need to be a little bit more patient, especially when we get into the half court offense. I thought there were some times tonight where we got some deflections and rebounds and were able to get out on the break, but we did not have enough of those. It seemed like on the half court offense, we had too much standing around.”

Conway said the team had too many let downs on defense in the fourth quarter.

“We were trying to match up shot-for-shot and we were trying to rush shots, and Wright City was going down and hitting shots and they were able to build on their lead,” Conway said. “Defensively, I thought we had a really good practice yesterday and we had a good idea of preparing what we wanted to do; we just did not get it down defensively. We just have to get back to work; we have a couple of days and then get back to work next week.”

With the score being within single digits for most of the game, Conway said there are some things for the team to build on.

“I thought Ayden Bryant came in and gave us some really good minutes,” Conway said. “The things we need to take away with is that we need to compete for four quarters and that defense can lead to some easy opportunities for us when we do it consistently. We just have to be more consistent on both ends.”

Calen Kruger led the team with 21 points, followed by Trevor Myers with 18 points.

The Pintos’ next game is at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at Sweet Springs.

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