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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaWill Pickering plays tough defense during the Pintos’ win over Versailles.

VERSAILLES, Mo. — The California Pintos boys basketball team (4-11) squeeked out another win Jan. 22 in a high-scoring 99-93 matchup against the Versailles Tigers (6-7).

This was the second time the two teams have faced each other this season. The Pintos gained revenge this time around; Versailles won the first encounter 101-92 in another high-scoring game Dec. 3 during the Tri-County Conference tournament.

The Pintos led 12-7 early in the first quarter this time, and the team eventually made it a 10-point game at 20-10 with more than 3:30 left in the quarter. Versailles came roaring back after forcing four turnovers in a row that led to quick scores; the Tigers led 22-20 when the dust settled.

California trailed 25-21 with less than a 1:00 to go in the quarter but managed to tie the game at 25 after a basket by Calen Kruger with around 10 seconds left. The Pintos took a two point lead shortly after at 27-25, as Peter Dampf secured an offensive rebound after a missed free-throw attempt and got the put back shot off right before the buzzer to take the lead exiting the first period.

California extended its lead early in the second quarter, as the team went on a 6-1 run to start the quarter and make it 33-26 with less than 7:00 until halftime. The Pintos extended their lead and made it an 11-point game at 41-30 in the next three minutes.

The Pintos led by as many as 15 points in the quarter, peaking at 49-34 with less than 3:00 left. By halftime, the Pintos led 52-39.

In the third quarter, it looked like the Pintos were on their way to a convincing win as they led by 19 points at 67-49 with just more than 3:00 left until the final quarter. With less than 2:00 to go in the quarter, the Pintos led by 21 points at 73-52 after two free throws by Karson McKinney. Versailles followed that up by cutting into the lead a little bit, going on a 5-0 run to make it 73-57. The Pintos responded by going on a 4-0 run of their own. After two more free throws by Kruger, California led 77-57, but Versailles made it a 77-59 game right before the end of the quarter.

Versailles started to get hot on offense in the fourth quarter, outscoring California 11-5 in the first couple of minutes to make it an 82-68 game with less than 6:00 left in the game. A three-pointer by Trevor Myers made it a 15-point game at 85-70, but Versailles cut the lead down to nine points at 85-76 with just more than 5:00 left in the game.

The game continued to go back and forth; a three-pointer by Kruger made it 87-76, but again the Tigers cut the lead down to single digits at 89-82 with around 3:20 left to play. The Tigers got within four points at 90-86 with 1:35 left in the game, and California kept the gap alive after making a couple of free throws to put the score at 93-89 with just more than 1:00 left.

Kruger made two free throws with 27 seconds left to extend the Pintos' lead to 95-89, and Myers contributed two free throws of his own to make it 97-89 with 17 seconds left. The Pintos were able to hang on as Kruger tallied two more free throws with five seconds to the buzzer to make it 99-91 and finally put the game out of reach for Versailles.

Pintos head coach Brad Conway said at halftime, he told the players they could not look at the scoreboard, even with the decent lead they had at the half.

"With the way (Versailles) shoots the ball they can get hot and they can get right back in it, and they did," Conway said. "Fortunately for us, I thought we got some big defensive rebounds there in the second half when we needed to. The last minute and a half, Calen and Trevor really stepped up and hit some big free throws for us and we got some stops when we needed to."

Conway also praised Jaden Trachsel and Will Pickering and how they played in the game.

"Jaden Trachsel had a huge game for us tonight. I thought he rebounded the ball well for us and knocked down some shots. It was nice to see him step up, and Will Pickering was able to finish some close shots for us and he got some big rebounds as well," Conway said. "Everybody really contributed and it was a great team win."

When Versailles started to get back into the game in the final quarter, Conway said he thought the Pintos did a good job of keeping their composure.

"The press is designed to try to speed the other team up. We got the ball to the people we needed to. I know we had a lot of turnovers, but I thought for the most part, we made some adjustments from the first time we played them," Conway said.

California struggled at times with Versailles' press, as the Pintos lost the ball 15 times in the first half alone. However, there were also times when California was able to break the press. Conway said when going against a press, the team has to keep its composure.

"You have to keep your composure and not play so fast," Conway said. "I thought that when we were under control, we did a lot of good things and we got good looks. When we tried to play too fast, that is when we would have two or three turnovers in a row. So it is just keeping your composure and understanding what we have been working on."

Trevor Myers led the team with 30 points, followed by Calen Kruger with 23 points, Jaden Trachsel with 22 points and Will Pickering with 10 points.

The Pintos' next game is at the Hermann tournament running from Jan. 25-30.

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