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Eagles in second round of state playoffs for first time
TC girls pic2
Rebekah Muller runs down court after intercepting the basketball. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Last week Turlock Christian came up short in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championship game, disappointing its girls and their fans. It wasn’t the end of the road though; TC still had the Division V State Basketball Tournament to look forward to. The season wasn’t over.

On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles (27-4 overall) transformed their disappointment into motivation as they battled with North Section semi-finalists Durham High. Although the Trojans (11-17 overall) didn’t impress on paper they rose to the occasion on the court, forcing TC to earn each point in its 68-61 victory in the team’s third state playoff appearance in school history.

“Offensively, 68 points that’s us,” TC’s head coach Edwin Santiago said. “Defensively, oh my goodness, we gave up too many rebounds. Their 61 points came because we didn’t box out well.”

Coming into the game the Trojans averaged a dismal 36 points a game, but Durham surprised those in attendance with a competitive first half that saw four lead changes and seven ties. At the end of the first quarter the two teams were tied 13-13, and, with less than a minute left in the half, TC led by a point. Back-to-back treys from Halie Bergman (29 points) and Natalie Snyder (29 points) gave TC a comfortable lead but a half court buzzer beater from Durham’s Katherine Frietas made it a close game once again as the two teams headed into halftime with a score of 31-27.

Bergman accounted for 20 of TC’s first half points as Durham’s Stephanie Husa led the Trojans with 11 first half points, including three first quarter treys.

TC hit the court after halftime with a second wind and an aggressive press. The three point shots continued in the second half as the game became a three-point slugfest. Snyder led the second half charge with four treys and two triple doubles as Bergman and the Trojan Husa hit two more treys a piece.

The Eagle defense proved to be the difference in the game, however, as it helped orchestrate a 10-point run in the beginning of the third quarter and gave TC a steady double digit lead for most of the second half. A late Trojan run brought them within four points of TC with 27 seconds left in regulation, but untimely fouls and avoidable mistakes ensured a TC victory.

“This is the first time we’ve gone to the second round. They’re excited, and I am too,” Santiago said with a laugh.

TC will face St. Joseph Notre Dame High at 5 p.m. on Saturday in Alameda. The Eagles and Pilots (23-10 overall) played each other in TC’s first state playoff appearance; a matchup the Pilots won.