It was a joyful day for Turlock Christian High’s boys basketball team Wednesday night when they hosted Lodi Academy High in the first round of the Sac Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs. The Eagles (13-15 overall, 7-7 SAL) seized the moment in front of an enthusiastic home crowd and walked away from the court with a 70-53 victory and the first post-season win in eight years for TC boys basketball.
“I don’t even have words for it,” TC’s first year varsity head coach Eddie Sai said. “Just to see where they’ve come from last year to this year, to win our first playoff game...it just feels great.”
TC entered the game with a concerted effort to pressure the Titans and limit their best shooter, senior Jeremy Brown. With the Eagles sophomore duo of Kameron Vogt and Jordan Riise working under the boards, Lodi Academy was forced to take outside shots which failed to hit their mark. The Titans made a short comeback midway through the second quarter to tie the game but a continued offensive assault from Riise put TC back in the lead and made it 33-25 at the half.
“He played his best game this year. He came ready to play and really wanted this win for his team,” Sai said of Riise.
Riise netted 13 first half points before adding 10 more in the second half for a game high 23 points along with 12 rebounds. Vogt chipped in with 14 points and 9 rebounds. TC went 16-26 from the floor in the second half while Lodi Academy managed to hitless than a third of its shots. Brown finished with 22 points.
“We knew that if we won this we’d make school history and that gave us the spirit to win,” Riise said.
Players, coaches, fans, and school officials beleived Wednesday's victory to be the first for the boys program—a belief that provided ample motivation for the game—when in fact the Eagles had won a playoff game during the 2003-2004 season.
TC’s next playoff stop will be against first seed Faith Christian High on Friday. The Eagles will travel to Yuba City where they’ll try to stop the Sacramento Metro League champion Lions and continue making school history.
“We had a goal of 15 wins this season and we want that 15th win, and that banner,” Sai said. “They’re focused and they know where they want to go.”
“We want to take this division championship,” Riise said.