GALT — The Turlock Christian girls basketball players could have easily submitted, letting their opponents run all over them. At one point, a fan shouted, “Make them go home early.”
Except for a slow first quarter, the Eagles kept the game interesting.
In the second half, No. 3 Turlock Christian got the deficit down to single digits but never prevailed, eventually losing 72-60 to No. 2 Brookside Christian High on Tuesday afternoon in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Tournament at Galt High.
That means the Eagles’ hopes of returning to Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento (formerly known as Arco Arena) — the location of the Section title game — will have to wait another year.
But the Eagles’ season isn’t over. With the semifinals appearance, they’ve secured their second consecutive berth in the CIF State Tournament, with the first-round game starting Tuesday. It’s likely that the Eagles (21-9 overall) will play on the road.
In Tuesday’s game, it was Brookside Christian — which has a roster of just six players — that was in charge, thanks in large part to the presence of nifty freshman guard Tiara Tucker, who exploded for 38 points. Support came from another freshman in fellow guard Noni Kuumba, who finished with 21.
The Knights (25-5 overall) had a 29-10 lead after the first quarter, but then Turlock Christian began to surge back. The Eagles outscored their opponents 17-12 in the second, closing the gap to 39-27 at halftime.
“We were playing hard,” TC senior guard Molly Farrar said. “We had to really come back and really started pushing it.”
And the Eagles continued to make the game interesting.
They first cut the deficit to 43-35 with 4 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter after a Marly Burton bucket. That set off seven straight points by Brookside Christian before the Eagles had their own seven-point rally to make it 48-40 with 1:03 left in the period.
But after that, the Knights maintained a double-digit lead.
For the Eagles, Natalie Snyder and Farrar had 15 points apiece, with Snyder finishing with three 3-ponters. And Kaisa Spycher and Burton finished with 10 and 12, respectively.
“We’ve been fighting all year,” Turlock Christian coach Edwin Santiago said. “We tell our players over and over again to not give in to the fact that they’re having a bad day and to get over that. With that mindset, we just dug in and were able to inch our way back.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.