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TC girls fall in state tournament opener
TC girls bball main
Turlock Christian junior Marly Burton puts up a shot in the Eagles 74-36 loss to St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.

The Turlock Christian girls basketball team ended their season with a 36-74 loss to St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda Tuesday evening, making their exit from the first round of the 2010 California Interscholastic Federation Division V State Championship.

While Turlock Christian coach Edwin Santiago admitted he had hoped his team might keep the game a bit closer, he couldn’t help but be pleased by how the season turned out.

“This season doesn’t end with just one game,” Santiago said. “Looking back, it was a great season.”

The 2010 season was the best in the history of the Eagles, highlighted by the team’s first ever trip to Arco Arena, where they lost to Bradshaw Christian 67-25 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament Finals Division V on Friday. That second-place finish qualified Turlock Christian for the eighth seed in the state tournament.

The ninth seeded St. Joseph Notre Dame Pilots came out with guns blazing for the first round game Tuesday, taking the lead on their first possession before quickly running up a 6-0 lead. The Pilots led 20-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 39-20 at the half.

The game was dominated by the Pilots’ 6’4” junior center Carmen Lockhart, who led all scorers with 20. Her inside height made it difficult for the Eagles to put up shots, while the frenetic Pilots defense picked off any passes Turlock Christian attempted to squeeze by.

While the 74-36 end result wasn’t what Turlock Christian players had hoped for, they found the bright spots in the season-ending loss.

“I’m very pleased with how we played,” said Eagles’ senior forward Aubrey Larson. “Everyone gave 100 percent all game.”

Tuesday’s loss was the final high school game for Larson, as well as fellow seniors Simi Grewal, Candice Balswick, who scored four in the loss, and Amy Wright, who knocked down 16 of the Eagles’ 36.

Despite the loss, Larson remained positive. She was pleased with the way the Eagles went out, continuing to play with the heart and good sportsmanship she said the Christian school is known for – and will continue to lead them to victory.

“It was really fun to play with these girls all last year,” Larson said. “I’m sure next season they’ll go far.”

The younger players relished the experience of playing in a state tournament game, and were pleased with their team’s 26-6 season performance.

“I think we played really hard,” said Eagles’ sophomore center Marly Burton, who finished with two points Tuesday. “… We left our signature on the court.”

Burton will be one of eight returning players for the Eagles next year, and one of four co-captains alongside junior Kaisa Spycher, who scored four, junior Molly Farrar, who tallied 10, and standout, high-scoring freshman Halie Bergman, who tore her ACL early this season and missed the playoffs.

As the game began to fall away from the Eagles in the second quarter, the boisterous Turlock Christian cheering section began chanting Bergman’s name, drawing the question of just how the game may have turned out if the Eagles’ leading scorer was in action.

“That’s one thing about our TC fans,” Santiago said, “That they support us in the good times and the bad times.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.