Tuesday will go down in the record books as an unforgettable night for the Turlock Christian High varsity girls basketball team.
For the 11th consecutive year the Eagles won their first round playoff contest, this time over Forest Lake Christian, in the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section bracket after a 59-41 home victory.
“We were tense in the beginning and it showed and we had to sub in order to get the flow of the game going,” said TC head coach Edwin Santiago. “There were times when we were tight with trying to work our offense and tight when we tried to work on defense with the early fouls we got into.”
Senior Cassie Balswick also stamped her legacy on the court for the Eagles after the four-year varsity standout amassed 1,000 career points during the second quarter of the game.
The game was put on hold and an announcement was made about her accomplishment as pictures were taken during a brief intermission.
“Just an unbelievable job she has done,” Santiago said of Balswick.
By this point, TC had steadily begun their resurrection after starting off the game a bit groggy.
TC scored only six points in the first five minutes of the game and took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
“I think we were really tense about everything but towards the second half we picked it up and got loose and got comfortable with each other,” said TC’s Mikayla Yagi, who finished with a double-double. “We weren’t thinking too far ahead and that was the difference.”
By the third, TC had gone on a 17-10 run to take a 31-17 lead and the Eagles never trailed again for the remainder of the game after picking up the intensity of the defensive side.
“We have a really deep bench so I think that benefited our team since we all contribute and play together as a team and work hard and we just picked it back up and started playing well,” said TC senior Meghan Mark.
During the course of the season, Santiago has had the benefit of using three different rotations and it has worked for the Eagles, which have ran down teams late in the game with their fresh substitutions.
“I think getting the 14 players in right away helped, but they really turned it around after a slow start,” said Santiago. “Finally we got on board later in the game but it helped us out, everyone contributed.”
TC caused Forest Lake to play uncomfortable in the second half after TC forced 23 steals for the game and held Forest Lake to only 10 points in an eight-minute stretch in the fourth.
Yagi finished the game with 14 points and added 10 rebounds. Mark had seven 11 points, seven steals and three rebounds. Balswick added 15 points, four rebounds, six assists and six steals.
The next game for TC will be at home against No. 3 Stockton Christian at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“That will be the difference, if we can wear them down and force them to play at a high intensity for all 32 minutes and not get any rest, that will be the difference and it will be decided in the fourth,” Santiago added. “But if they can hang for all 32 minutes then it’s going to be a tough one.”