The Turlock Christian Eagles made school history Friday afternoon as the first-ever boys basketball team to win a section title, taking down Elliot Christian by a commanding score of 66-39 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI Championship game.
As the No. 5 seed, TC earned its trip to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento by first defeating No. 4 Foresthill in the quarterfinals before upsetting the No. 1 seed, Victory Christian, by just four points in Wednesday's semifinal game. The Eagles’ blue banner is just the second for the high school’s boys sports programs (golf earned the first) and Friday’s victory marked the second time the team has played in a section title game.
TC’s senior athletes remember that 2019 section title loss against Vacaville Christian, and showed up ready to redeem themselves this time around. The Eagles played Elliot Christian twice in Central California Athletic Alliance League play this season and another time during a tournament, taking two of three and outscoring the Lodi team just 189-180.
The last time the two teams faced off on Feb. 1, TC came away with a win by only three points.
“I think we came into this game knowing it was going to be a tough game regardless. But it was one of those things where we had the confidence. I could tell by the look in all of our players’ eyes that they wanted to be here,” TC head coach Daniel Motz said. “This game today makes it worth it for everyone who came out this year putting in all the hard work…They deserve it more than anything else.”
Friday’s championship game was a far cry from the previous close games the two schools had played against each other this season. TC jumped out to an early 12-5 lead in the first period and didn’t look back. The Eagles dominated the court throughout the game, never trailing and even leading by as much as 30 points near the game’s end.
Caleb Comfort led TC’s scoring effort with 24 points and also collected 19 rebounds — no surprise thanks to the junior’s 6-foot-9, 220-pound frame. Senior Shadon Boswell had 15 points on the afternoon, while junior Case DeJong scored 13 points and had 12 rebounds.
Plenty of TC students, friends and family made the trek to Sacramento to see the boys basketball program win its first-ever section title, and it was well worth the drive. Motz, in his first year as TC head coach, said the moment was beyond words.
“I’m just thankful that I was able to be a part of this ride with these hard-working young men,” he said.
Five Eagles will graduate this season, but Comfort knows that juniors, like himself and DeJong, can continue to lead the team to perhaps a second blue banner.
“Next year I think we can bring it back and be section champions again,” Comfort said. “We all did what we needed to do and we took care of business, and it shows.”
Now the Eagles will play in the Northern CIF State Basketball Championship, with the first game set for 6 p.m. March 1. Bracket information and game location will be made available Sunday evening at www.cifstate.org