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TC girls rally in second half to beat Elliot Christian
TC girls pic
McCalister Russell, seen here during an earlier game against Denair, brought down 12 of Turlock Christian's 54 rebounds for the game against Elliot Christian on Monday. Russell also added 6 points and an assist in the CCAA 58-41 victory. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

It was a tale of two halves on Monday night when the Turlock Christian girls basketball team hosted Elliot Christian High for a Central California Athletic Alliance showdown that ended well for the Eagles.

Although it wasn't the start that head coach Edwin Santiago had hoped for, coming off the team's biggest defeat of the year just four days prior, the Eagles put aside a rough first half and came out ready to battle in the second half.

What was evident was the defensive effort put forth by TC, which outscored EC, 31-8, in the second half to pull away with a 58-41 victory, securing their second CCAA win of the year.

“In the end our depth and dominance on the glass proved too much for Elliot Christian,” said Santiago, whose team is now 2-2 in league.

The glass was dominated by McCalister Russell, who came down with 12 of the team's 54 rebounds for the game. Russell also added 6 points and an assist. Brooke Rodrigues and Alexis Smith added 20 boards combined for TC.

Down by double-digits during the first half, Meghan Mark helped cut the lead in the closing minutes of the quarter after hitting two threes to cut the lead to single digits.

With a 33-27 deficit heading into halftime break, TC knew that a better effort had to be put forth if they expected to pull out of the slump against one of the two teams in league still winless.

Trailing by six to begin the third, Mark followed up with another three and then stole the next pass, eventually finding Aimee Jones open for a three to finally tie the game at 33 apiece at the start of the third.

As the home crowd noise began to grow for TC, the Eagles went on a run in the third quarter, holding their opponents to only 2 points in 8 minutes while putting up 13.

“Aimee (Jones) played a vital part in bringing us back since Cassie Balswick was out most of the third with foul trouble,” said Santiago.

Mikayla Yagi paved the way in the fourth quarter, along with the return of Balswick, with each contributing 6 points after TC outscored EC 18-6 in the closing quarter.

“This is a step toward our dream of making this year our greatest response to adversity and making the necessary adjustments through the season,” said Santiago. “We thus leave our signature on the court when the final horn sounds.”

As a team, TC came away with 22 steals for the game and turned the ball over just 15 times.

Yagi finished with a game-high 14 points and added 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Balswick had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals. Mark added 7 steals and 3 assists.

Next for TC will be another CCAA contest on the road against Stone Ridge Christian at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.