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Balswick, Russell score big night for Eagles
Turlock Christian's Cassie Balswick attempts a shot as her Stone Ridge opponent tries to block her Friday evening. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Cassie Balswick and McCalister Russell played a pivotal role for Turlock Christian on Friday night in the team’s final home game of the season as the Eagles hosted Stone Ridge Christian High and dominated from the onset.

Balswick was just four stats away from amassing a rare quadruple double after finishing the game with nine assists, nine steals, eight rebounds and 11 points and led the way for the Eagles' 72-38 win to notch their second consecutive victory heading into their final contest of the year.

“We knew it was our last home game and we played with fire and intensity. We had a slow start and we picked it up and wanted to go out with a bang in our last home game,” said Balswick about the team’s penultimate game.

Head coach Edwin Santiago also had the luxury of rotating a series of 12 players throughout the entire game, taking advantage of the nine players that Stone Ridge brought.

Stone Ridge could only hang with TC after one quarter, then after that all bets were off.

The Eagles went on to lead by as many as 34 points for the game and never trailed from start to finish after a completely dominating defensive effort.

“The difference was we practiced fast breaks the last few days and it seemed to work better this time around than the last time we played them,” said Santiago. “The girls bought into it, so they are on the same page. As deep as we are and running at our pace, it’s hard for the opposing team to keep up.”

TC was able to control Stone Ridge after the first half, taking a 38-21 lead into halftime after playing a disruptive game on the defensive side, forcing Stone Ridge to turn the ball over 20 times.

Senior Russell, who recently suffered a neck injury in the previous game, was also playing with the flu but it didn’t stop the center from dominating the paint and adding another double-double to her list.

Russell topped out the game with a team-high 14 points and snagged a team-high 15 rebounds for the game.

“I didn’t notice it too bad tonight so I think that was good I guess… just coughing a bit, nothing big,” said Russell or her ailments. “When we played our last game against Jim Elliot I suffered a neck injury and went to the chiropractor earlier to help the pain.”

Russell and the rest of the team went on to cruise through the second half with ease, holding Stone Ridge to only eight points in the fourth quarter clinching their sixth league win of the year.

“This time I think we had the mindset on senior night to have fun and just enjoy that moment on what we've been building off the past four years and we got our momentum going,” said Russell.

TC is now 16-8 overall and 6-5 in the Central California Athletic Alliance heading into their final regular season game of the year.

“There was high spirit; there was a lot of unity. There was emotion around it so they used that energy and ran the floor well,” said Santiago. “We worked much more as a unit than they have in other challenges in the past so it’s nice to see because we are going into playoffs and we want to be ready.”

The final game for TC will be on the road against Big Valley Christian at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.