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TC boys drop critical league game to Venture Academy
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Raffa Babba brings the ball down the court in an attempt to score for Turlock Christian Tuesday evening. The Eagles lost to Venture Academy 88-55 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Eagles of Turlock Christian and the Mustangs of Venture Academy (Stockton) came together on Tuesday night in a battle for first place in the Central California Athletic Alliance. With a win, the Mustangs would maintain their perfect league record while an Eagles win would put the two teams in a tie. Despite the similar records, the game wound up being a blowout in favor of the Mustangs.

Right out of the gate, it was the Mario Williams show. Williams, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, helped the Mustangs jump out to an early 20-5 first quarter lead. He finished with 24 points to lead all scorers, even while sitting out for the majority of the fourth quarter enroute to a dominant 88-55 victory.

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TC's Seth Russell passes to an open target during the game against Venture Academy on Tuesday (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“Venture Academy is Venture Academy,” said Turlock Christian head basketball coach Jacob Gregg, referring to the fact that they are the No. 4 ranked team in Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division IV by MaxPreps. “We knew coming into this one that we would have our hands full. They’re a good team with good length and good size.”

Meanwhile for Turlock Christian, senior captain Case DeJong filled up the stat sheet with 11 points and 8 rebounds, but it just wasn’t enough to mount any comeback.

“We’re a young team and this was one of those growing pains,” Gregg said. “We’re still the No. 4 seed in Division VI Sections. We just need to keep doing what we’ve done up until this point, which is beat the teams that we should beat.”

The Eagles now sit in third place in CCAA standings with a 3-2 league record behind Stone Ridge Christian (4-1) and Venture Academy (5-0). Their next game will come on homecoming against Elliott Christian (0-5) on Saturday at 7 p.m. while a highly anticipated matchup at Stone Ridge Christian will be Tuesday at the same time.

“We need to go out and have a good outing next week against Elliott on homecoming and against Stone Ridge, which should really determine everything,” Gregg said. “This should determine if we keep our spot in the rankings, so it’s definitely important.”