Turlock Christian High’s Paige Vieira cemented her legacy by placing herself in the record books on Monday night following 10 rebounds in the Eagles’ 38-27 home win over Linden in their penultimate game of the regular season.
“I didn’t really know that I was going to accomplish it, but when I found out I was close I set my mind that I had to do this… and I just been working as hard as I can,” said Vieira after breaking her cousin’s record. “My cousin could care less honestly, but it is nice to keep it in the family, and also I am wearing her number (33). I am really excited, I was shooting for 1,000 points as well, but last week I sprained my ankle really badly, so I missed a game and I needed that.”
“I wanted them to have fun, since this was the least stressful game we have since our next game against Big Valley is a big game, they are very hard and physical,” said TC head coach Edwin Santiago. “What we hoped to accomplish was to control our attitude and I think we did a great job with that, very physical game as well, they are just physical. It was a gritty and hardworking team and we need to see this early since we will be exposed to this in the playoffs.”
Prior to the start of the game, Vieira’s cousin, Kiasa Spycher, held the record for most rebounds in a career with 1,026. Vieira was three rebounds short of the record before the game started.
Vieira, a four-year varsity starter, told herself that this was going to be it and she achieved it.
Vieira, the CCAA Most Valuable Player from a season ago, has already left her mark on the program.
“She picked us up and makes us stand to a higher level, she brings up her level of performance and that is a leader and captain,” said Santiago about Vieira. “She left her signature no matter what happens from this point, she is one of the greatest players I have ever coached.”
On Monday, TC found themselves down at the start of the second when Linden went up 8-7 following a low scoring first quarter.
TC followed up with a 15-2 run in the second quarter, which led to a 22-10 lead heading into the half with the help of Mikayla Ray and Holly De Jong. Combined, both had 14 of the team’s 21 steals.
They wreaked havoc on the defensive side and didn’t let Linden move the ball past their side of the court on at least half a dozen possessions in the first half alone.
With a steady lead, TC managed to control the tempo after they amassed over 60 rebounds as a team for the game and were able to secure multiple second chance shots, including some big deep shots.
One of those deep shots included a three from Aliyah Amaya as time expired in the second quarter, which extended the lead to double-digits.
TC led 31-16 after the third quarter, while Vieira continued to check in with a bad ankle and made multiple plays happen all around.
“It has been a pleasure as a coach to have someone so dedicated and committed as Paige has been for us,” said Santiago. “The whole time she never complains or whines, she embraces it, and it is tough, but she can endure it and she is one of the best players I have ever coached. She can handle so many obstacles.”
Linden outscored TC in the fourth, 11-7, but the deficit was too large and the Eagles press made it nearly impossible to move the ball on offense or in transition. This led to the 20 plus steals by TC.
De Jong added six points to her seven steals while Mikayla Ray tallied 20 rebounds and a team-high 11 points to top off a double-double and was three steals from a triple-double.
“Mikayla is an interceptor and Holly is a thief,” Santiago said.
Vieira currently has 1,033 rebounds, seven ahead of Spycher, with at least two games remaining, including the first round of playoffs.
Heading into the final game of the regular season, the playoffs are a lock and TC has a record of 12-12 and 3-4 in the Central California Athletic Alliance. Millennium is currently first as of Monday with a 5-1 league record while Stone Ridge Christian follows up in second place at 4-3.
Next for TC is their regular season finale against CCAA foe Big Valley Christian from home, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13.