STOVER, Mo.— The California Pintos boys basketball team had a busy two days during the Paradise Shootout at Stover June 16-17.
The Pintos played three games on the first day against Iberia, Sherwood and Stoutland. On the second, they played in three more contests, matching up against Lincoln, Meadville and Crest Ridge. Each game consisted of two halves of 17 minutes.
In one of those matchups, against the Meadville Eagles, the Pintos came out on top with a 42-28 victory.
In the first half, the game was tied at 5 with just more than 13 minutes left to go. The Pintos made a three-pointer to make it an 8-5 game. California added to its lead even more; with around 7:30 left, the Pintos led 16-9. Meadville cut the lead down to four points at 16-12 soon after, but California answered with a three-pointer to make it 19-12. By the end of the half, the Pintos still led 23-20.
In the second half, both teams struggled to score early on. The Pintos led 26-20 with just more than 12:30 left in the shortened game. Meadville kept it a four-point game at 28-24 with around 12 minutes on the clock, but California sank yet another three-pointer to make it 31-24. The Pintos stacked their lead further as the buzzer approached, bringing the scoreboard to 34-24 with around 3:30 left to play. The Pintos only allowed two more Meadville baskets in the final minutes as they pulled away to complete the victory.
Pintos head coach Brad Conway said he thinks the team is making some nice strides after playing at the shootout, but there is still work to be done.
"There are some areas that we (should work on). We need some more reps on our offense," Conway said. "We are just a little bit behind on our cuts and on our passes. I just told the guys that the offense is not my concern, we are going to keep getting reps and we are going to get our timing down."
Conway said he thinks the defense has been a lot better this summer as the team works on its chemistry.
"I really like what we have been doing this summer, we are playing really well together," Conway said. "We are working on our chemistry because we have some upperclassmen that have not played with the younger guys and vice versa. So we are trying to work on the chemistry. But we are really concentrating on getting better defensively and (rebounding) better defensively so we can get out in transition and get some early offense."
Besides closing out the win with a tight final few minutes, the Pintos played solid defense throughout the contest. California forced 14 steals in the game and gave up just four turnovers on the offensive side.
Evident from the numbers, Conway said he has seen the team improve its defense and rebounding from the end of last season to the present.
"We are locked in a little bit better," Conway said. "We are not allowing as much dribble driving into the paint and the kids have an understanding of what we are trying to get accomplished on the defensive end. I think we are rebounding a little bit better than what we did last year."
With the Pintos starting their second year under Conway and with more time to prepare than last year, Conway said the team is executing better.
"Just understanding the offense, understanding our different sets and to go along with that, we just need repetition and we just need to get our timing down," Conway said. "It is coming, I really noticed that at our first league night which was a couple of weeks ago. I thought that we were executing stuff a little bit better and when teams would take something away, we were able to improvise and make an adjustment. So offensively, a lot of the things we are trying to do is just a lot of timing and the timing is just not there right now, but that stuff is going to come."