The boys’ basketball season is officially over for Turlock High after Wednesday’s 89-54 playoff loss to Sheldon High in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Boys Basketball Championships. The reigning Central California Conference champions met their match in the Huskies (19-6 overall) who showed the Bulldogs (16-11 overall) how they became Delta League champs and why they were seeded second in the tournament.
“I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get a higher seed, but there’s no disappointment in losing to Sheldon. They’re the real deal and you got to tip your hat to them because they were,” Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot said.
Turlock, who was seeded 15th in the tournament and won a buy-in game last Friday, was on its heels from the onset of the game as its players struggled to match the speed and intensity of Sheldon’s players. In addition to being physically outmatched in many areas on the court, the Bulldogs also failed to execute their own game plan as missed shots and a porous defense led to a halftime score of 50-29 in favor of the Huskies.
“Their speed and aggressiveness caught us off guard a little bit, but us failing to make free throws and layups compounded that fact,” Cornfoot said. “We were down 21 at the half and we probably missed six or seven free throws and probably three layups. We make our free throws and layups, we’re down six or seven points instead of being down 20.”
Sheldon’s Elishja Duplechan led the way for his team with 13 points while the trio of Mathew Manning, Devin Greene and Darius Mahone combined for a total of 27 points with nine points apiece.
“We played zone, they were hitting threes. We would pick up man and they were just quicker than us at positions that caused us to break down defensively a few times,” Cornfoot said. “There’s a reason why they’re the number two team in the section.”
By the third quarter, with the win clearly out of sight, Turlock began to rotate in its bench as a form of early preparation for next season. By the time the game was over, senior Demsen McFaddin and junior Habib Velasquez emerged as Turlock’s leading scorers with 10 points each while sophomore Mustafa Johnson scored seven points.
“Nothing that we were doing was cutting into their 20-point lead,” Cornfoot said. “Everybody got to play and we got a chance to let our sophomores get in there and see what it’s like to play against that kind of size and speed, just so they can put that in their memory banks for next year.”
Turlock now looks to next year as it prepares to say good bye to its big-three: McFaddin, Travis Cook and Devan Bains. The Bulldogs will retain key players like Velasquez and Will Hilgen, however, and will welcome a fresh crop of players who helped Turlock win CCC titles at the freshman and JV levels, too. The returners and incoming prospects have coach Cornfoot excited about the team’s chances at repeat success next year.
“We set a goal every year to win league and make playoffs. We accomplished both our goals and we’ve made playoffs nine years in a row since I’ve been here,” Cornfoot said. “We’ve got a bright future the next few years in basketball.”