This season did not pan out the way head coach coach Eddie Sai had expected for his Turlock Christian varsity boys basketball squad, but in the team’s final home game things ended on a high note.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, TC knew that they were battling for pride and also to build off a progressive season that saw only three seniors play on a consistent basis.
Something sparked for the Eagles on Thursday when they squared off against Stone Ridge Christian on senior night and it was senior Coleman Kirkendall who put forth a standout performance.
Kirkendall finished the night with the second-highest scoring total at 14 points and added four rebounds, five assists and four steals as the Eagles went on to defeat Stone Ridge, 75-41, to snap their six-game losing streak.
“We wanted to come out since it’s our last game against Stone Ridge and it was a rivalry thing from what happened in football during the season so I had a feeling our team would take it to heart,” said Kirkendall. “So we came out more focused than most games. We wanted to make sure we put the pedal down.”
TC improved to 3-10 in the Central California Athletic Alliance and 4-20 overall for the year.
“When you have teams that have players who will beat many Sacramento teams and then go to the finals usually, then to state it is amazing to be in our league and the caliber is really good,” said Sai.
Thursday was without question the Eagles' top performance of the year so far after the team racked up 70-plus points for only the third time this season.
Junior Mason Mark led the way for the Eagles after finishing with a game-high 18 points after shooting 8 of 11 from the field and added three rebounds.
Stone Ridge came out with an early lead after the first quarter to go up 7-6 with 3:30 left but then TC came storming back with a 8-4 run to go up by three after the first quarter and the Eagles never looked back.
TC never trailed for the remainder of the game and led by as many as 35 points during the game, stretching the lead out after the third quarter.
“The mindset was we need to come out and get a victory, we have been close in games. There were eight games that have been close,” said Sai. “Two in overtime and others we couldn’t finish but we are also such a young squad and we advanced practices and wanted to finish at home well.”
Well TC finished great.
The Eagles went on to hold Stone Ridge to only 16 points, while notching up 38 of their own, scoring their second highest total in a game this year.
TC senior Manny Preciado finished with 10 points, five rebounds and six steals. Max Tyson had nine rebounds, three assists, 9 points and a pair of steals.
“There was bonding and most of the kids on the team we never really knew each other but we came together here near the end,” Kirkendall added. “We were even with skill, no one-man show, we played together especially near the end and tonight we played the best game together we have all year.”
The final game for TC will be on the road against Big Valley Christian at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“They have a tall kid, 6-foot-8, but we will come and give everything we've got and I think our kids want to finish well and on a high note,” Sai added.