URBANA — The California Pintos girls basketball team (8-5) lost a tough game Jan. 21 against the Skyline Tigers (14-2) 72-63.
The Pintos found themselves down in the opening stages of the first quarter, as Skyline took a 7-2 lead early in the game. The Pintos tied the game at 7 thanks to a three-pointer by Tristan Porter with just more than 6:00 left in the quarter. The game was tied again at 9 before the Tigers went on a 5-0 run to make it 14-9 with around 3:00 to go in the quarter. It stayed a five-point game for much of the remainder of the quarter. Skyline led 18-13 by the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, the Pintos got within three points as they made it an 18-15 game early on. Skyline responded with a 7-0 run to make it a 10-point game at 25-15 with just more than 5:00 left in the first half. The Pintos responded, trading baskets with Skyline to make it a nine-point game at 30-21 with around 4:00 left. California trailed by 12 points at 35-23 with just less than 2:00 left in the half and trailed by 14 points with around 1:00 to go. A three-pointer by Tristan Porter cut the lead down to 11 points at 39-28 with around 40 seconds left. By halftime, the Pintos trailed 41-28.
The Pintos continued to trail by around 10 points for most of the third quarter; the score stood at 48-38 with 4:00 left in the quarter. A three-pointer by Trishelle Porter made it a seven-point game at 48-41 with less than 4:00 to go, but Skyline went on a 7-0 run to make it 55-41 with less than 2:00 to go. The Pintos were able to get within single digits again as they made it a nine-point game at 55-46 with around 30 seconds left in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Pintos trailed 56-48.
In the fourth quarter, California was able to get the lead down to just five points after a three-pointer by Lauren Friedrich made it a 56-51 game with around 7:00 left in the game. However, Skyline went on another run — this time 6-1 — and boosted its lead back to 10 points. The Pintos trimmed the lead down to eight points at 66-54 with around 3:30 left to play in the game. The Pintos forced the lead down even further to six points at 67-61 over the next two minutes, but Skyline did enough to keep the game just out of reach and held on for the win.
Pintos head coach Bobby Sangster said Skyline was able to execute during the game.
"They made basketball plays and made great shots, tough shots; there is no defense for making shots," Sangster said. "Girls are making spinning shots. They are making shots that are contested. Skyline is a winning program. They have a tradition; if you look around this gym, there are state championships for girls basketball. There is a reason we come down here. It is a great experience, and it is a great atmosphere and our girls learned from it."
Sangster said the fact the Pintos were able to get the Tigers' lead down to single digits multiple times in the game showed the team never quits.
"These girls have so much heart and so much passion for the game and care and love for their teammates," Sangster said. "For them to battle constantly all night long and to make a run and make a push, that is all a coach can ask for. I thought that this showed a tremendous amount of character for my girls and it is a lot that our community has to be proud of."
Sangster said the team can learn a few things from the loss, but it depends on how the team views it.
"It depends on how we internalize it," Sangster said. "It depends on how we look at our mistakes and it depends on how we want to move forward. If we want to be hungry and correct our mistakes, then it does a lot of good and it is a great opportunity. That is why we come down and play this game. If we shrug it off and blame things that are out of our control, then we won't improve much. We (have) to focus on us and worry about what we can control and be proud of being Lady Pintos."
Both teams shot plenty of free throws in the game, the result of a combined 44 fouls whistled throughout the night. California and Skyline committed 22 fouls in the game. The Pintos shot 17-27 from the free throw line, while the Tigers went 23-33 from the free throw line. Tristan Porter led California with 21 points, followed by Lauren Friedrich with 15 points and KaLynn Irey with eight points.
The Pintos' next game is at the Hermann tournament running through Jan. 30.