For the eighth straight year the Turlock Christian High girls varsity basketball team is in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV semifinal round of the postseason after trouncing Freedom Christian on Tuesday night, 66-26.
“We were committed to playing our very best and taking each game as if it were our last,” said TC head coach Edwin Santiago. “We want to have fun and play hard every second and that’s how we approached this game. We didn’t want to be too aggressive or lackadaisical because those are two extremes.”
It didn’t take long for the home team to take full advantage of their opportunities as they came out firing away in the opening quarter.
TC crushed Freedom from the start after going up 17-1 in the first quarter, and setting the tempo for what resulted in a completely lopsided game.
Freedom appeared to suffer from the away jitters as they played a very messy game, committing multiple traveling violations and over four shot clock violations.
TC’s aggressive style of defense caused havoc on the court for Freedom as they turned the ball over for most of the game.
As a team, TC finished the night with 27 steals with Meghan Mark leading the way with seven alone.
“What I saw was commitment to playing defense. We take pride in being able to stop and fulfill our assignment no matter if we're playing man or zone,” Santiago said of his team’s defense. “We also had enthusiasm and the crowd was in it from the get-go and it definitely picked up our intensity level.”
The depth, which has been vital for Coach Santiago’s squad this year, proved its significance on Tuesday as the team shared the ball frequently.
Out of the 14 players on the roster, 12 scored at least a point.
Hannah Sawyer and McCallister Russell were the top scorers with 12 each.
By the end of the third, TC was up 48-24 after Freedom outscored TC 16-13.
The defense revved up and shut down Freedom in the fourth quarter, holding the visitors to only two points in the fourth quarter.
“We stayed committed to playing defense no matter what point of the game it was so that is our number one skill to be able to play defense—it's our greatest gift aside from our depth,” Santiago said. “Our depth helps to compliment everything else because all 14 of our girls are committed to defense.”
The next game for TC will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday at home against the winner between Sacramento Waldorf and Lodi Academy.
“We are looking forward to the challenge and seeing what we can make in that situation,” Santiago said.