In their first year competing in the Central California Athletic Alliance, the Turlock Christian High boys basketball team failed to meet their own expectations in a league that saw three teams amass over 10-plus wins for the year, with the Eagles ending their year at 6-8.
With the new year, however, comes a new outlook.
“This year we are very young and I am excited for this team because there are no expectations to see where we are going to go, but our goal is get back to the playoffs,” said head coach Eddie Sai.
Although the playoffs is the team's ultimate goal, coach Sai knows that in one of the most competitive conferences it will be anything but easy to come away with a winning record.
“We know that our league is very strong this year and last,” said Sai. “It's going to be interesting because we've got these guys to play together and they can, so I hope to surprise some people out there.”
TC lost eight seniors from a year ago, but they have a trio of senior leaders that should be the captains as well in Dominic Zendejas, Manny Preciado and Coleman Kirkendall.
“Those guys should be the leaders of the pack,” said Sai.
Along with the seniors will be a solid number of newcomers including juniors Ben Balswick and Mason Mark and sophomore Max Tyson.
Tyson stands at 6-foot-6 and is expected to only improve as the year carries on, especially as he brings a ton of experience in basketball, having played AAU summer ball as well as competing in multiple camps during the offseason.
“He is going to give us a dominant inside game and outside game,” Sai said of Tyson. “He is devoted to the game and he is disciplined... He is the first guy in and last guy to leave the gym so I expect great things from him.”
Along with the help of Tyson, the team might also look differently when running defense—relying heavily on the ability to press the opposition with a different sized team.
“So we do have some guys that can play ball, we will be a different team. We will be pressing a lot and we will be coming after people and we aren't going to fear anybody,” said Sai.
The first game for the TC boys will be against Denair at home at 7 p.m. Dec. 2.