This past year was not only a successful one for the Turlock Christian varsity boys basketball squad, who finished with an 18-9 overall record, but it was one to remember as they posted the best regular season record since the 2004-05 year when the team went 26-3. But there is still one thing left to do—win sections.
While the Eagles have yet to win a section title in school history, head coach Eddie Sai feels that this could potentially be the year — especially after the Eagles concluded their remarkable season on senior night with an 84-72 win against their Southern Athletic League foe Waterford at home on Monday.
“We played very well on senior night, there was a packed house, and people were standing on the side, it was a tough game,” Sai said.
It was a remarkable night for the Eagles who had six players score in double digits, along with four players who finished with a double-double, Josh Wright, Jordan Riise, Brady Turner and Ben Van Vliet.
“This team is very unselfish, there is no 'me' play it is all about the team; different guys score in different nights. The goal is winning sections, which is a team personal goal,” Sai said.
The Eagles led after the opening quarter, 12-15, and they didn’t slow down the least bit, especially after outscoring the Wildcats 28-17 in the third quarter to take a big lead.
“I played our four seniors with one junior to start for the entire first quarter. I made the first subs in the second and we pushed from there on,” Sai said. “In the third quarter we put the hammer down and pressed hard, we wanted to push it and we came out aggressive and wanted to stretch the lead and open it up.”
A strong presence by the Eagles' ‘big guys’ was enough as they were led by seniors Van Vliet and Wright. Van Vliet finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Wright totaled 13 points and 11 assists.
“I think we have gone through some valleys and hills when we went down and came back up, the kids know they need to get their reps and think they will get a win if they play hard like tonight,” Sai said. “They were going for loose balls and overall they played well and hopefully this carries into the postseason."
Jordan Riise and Brady Turner topped out with a double-double each. Riise tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds and Turner finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds.
With the win, the Eagles finished 10-4 in their final year in the SAL, placing them in third place behind Ripon Christian. Currently, the Eagles are in the third place position in the Division IV sectionals.
“Coming in, it made a difference when we played against Division 1 and 2 schools at William Jessup in the summer. It was a great year with my assistants helping out so much, especially adding Coby Bryant, who assisted with the bigs has been huge for us,” Sai added.
Today, the seeding for the sectional playoffs will be revealed.