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Eagles advance to first-ever Section title game
TC boys basketball 2
Turlock Christian’s Zack Silva took over Wednesday’s semifinal playoff game as he notched a game-high 26 points against Big Valley Christian to help the Eagles advance to their first ever Sac-Joaquin Section title game (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Perseverance paid off for the Turlock Christian High boys basketball team as the Eagles turned their season around from a fourth-place finish in league to now making the program’s first-ever Section championship appearance.

This happened after Wednesday’s 60-55 win over league foe Big Valley Christian in the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI playoffs. The win was also the Eagles’ fifth consecutive victory.

“I never lost doubt. As a coach you never lose doubt on your team and I knew what we could be,” said first-year head coach Travis Thompson. “Those boys came to work every single day and followed the scouting report over and over again and this is just a testament to us never giving up.”

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Issac Rodrigues goes up for a shot during Wednesday’s 60-55 win over Big Valley Christian to advance to the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

The Eagles started the tournament as the No. 8 team.

They beat No. 9 Alpha Charter in the first round, then followed with an upset victory over No. 1 Stockton Christian only to meet a familiar opponent in the semis — a team they were matching up with for the fourth time this year.

No. 4 BVC had finished ahead of TC in the league standings for the year with a record of 8-4 in the Central California Athletic Alliance, which was good enough for third.

TC took fourth with a league record of 5-7.

“We have had to go through injuries and we lost key guys and our motto has been the next man up and refuse to lose,” said Thompson. “This is just a testament to that and it feels phenomenal since I wanted it for the seniors, I really wanted it so bad for them and I am so proud of them and it feels great to be here.”

TC has won seven of its last eight games and seem to be peaking at the right time.

Zack Silva finished Wednesday with a game-high 26 points. Ethan Fisher tallied 15 points and Micah Blomenkamp had 10.

At halftime, TC led 32-23.

That was the largest lead TC had in the game, as the second half saw a much closer game.

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Eli Gregg of Turlock Christian High looks to make a pass during a double coverage play in Wednesday’s 60-55 win over Big Valley Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI semifinal game (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

BVC went ahead 36-33 and led by as many as three in the third quarter before TC closed it with a 12-0 run to go up 45-36 by the start of the fourth and final quarter.

With the help of Silva, the TC Eagles managed to control the fourth despite a handful of turnovers and came away with big shots in the final minutes to edge out BVC for the second straight time this year.

The TC game against No. 3 Vacaville Christian for the D-VI SJS banner is slated to take place from the Golden One Center in Sacramento at noon on Friday.

“We need to stay with what we know and control what we can control,” Thompson added. “We scout very well and I think that is helpful and those guys go out and execute. I think we stick to what we know and stick with our culture and game plan and that is what we do. I think they have brought this community together and I have a great group of boys that bought in and they saw success and never lost sight of it. They just always bonded and that is what escalated this, how much they like each other and how coachable they are, this has been incredible.” 

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The Turlock Christian boys basketball team reached the program’s first Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game after defeating Big Valley Christian in Wednesday’s Division-VI semifinal (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).