California girls look to shake injury bug

It’s been one step up, then one step back because of injuries so far this season for the California Lady Pintos.

“It’s almost like preseason, we’ve been trying to figure ourselves out over and over again,” Lady Pintos coach Bobby Sangster said as California prepared to take on the Harrisburg Lady Bulldogs this afternoon in the Missouri National Guard Shootout at Fleming Fieldhouse.

On the positive side for today’s 4 p.m. contest, the Lady Pintos (5-2) will see the return of Kelsey Roush from an injury. But on the downside, leading scorer Meleigha Caudel sat out the second half of Thursday night’s victory at School of the Osage after injuring her back.

“We don’t have a lot of time to figure things out,” Sangster said. “Harrisburg is always tough, then we play Bowling Green next Saturday and then we get Silex, who was 27-2 last year. It’s a difficult stretch of the season for us.”

It starts with Harrisburg.

“They are very good, very talented,” Sangster said. “We are very proud of our tradition here at California, we think it’s one of the best in Mid-Missouri among small-school programs and Harrisburg’s tradition rivals ours when it comes to success and to fan support.

“This is going to be a great matchup.”

Sangster has seen Harrisburg play twice this season.

“They are athletic and you can tell they are well-coached because of how crisp they play,” he said. “You can see they want to make plays for one another, they want to be unselfish. They make the game easy for one another.”

And the Lady Bulldogs can shoot.

“If they are hot, there’s not not much you can do about it,” Sangster said. “We have to hope you don’t catch them in that game when they’re hot.”

This is a renewal of a rivalry. The two teams didn’t meet last year after squaring off in the previous six seasons. The Lady Pintos won the first meeting before dropping five straight to the Lady Bulldogs. The last two, however, came down to the final possession of the game.

“There have been some great games,” Sangster said.

One positive from the run of injuries is it has developed depth off the bench for the Lady Pintos.

“I am so happy with the younger girls, they have stepped their games up,” Sangster said. “We have a long way to go, but we’ve improved so much.”

The Lady Pintos are happy to be back in the Shootout.

“Every year, we look forward to it, the community looks forward to it, we’re all excited to be part of it,” Sangster said. “It’s so well run, it’s an awesome experience.

“It reminds me of playoff basketball, it doesn’t get any better that that.”


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