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THS girls, boys basketball end seasons with playoff runs
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Turlock High’s boys and girls basketball teams saw their seasons come to a close this week in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.

The boys fell at Rocklin, 76-67, while the girls were defeated 62-14 by St. Mary’s (Stockton).

Both teams concluded the 2022-23 campaign with 16-13 records.

The girls were the second-place team out of the Central California Athletic League with an 8-2 mark, losing twice to undefeated league champ Gregori, while the boys wrapped up league play with a 6-4 record, good enough for third place in the CCAL.

The boys finished the season with three consecutive losses, but it was a 74-73 overtime loss to rival Pitman on Feb. 8 that cost them second place in the CCAL and, in all likelihood, a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.

Against Rocklin, point guard Jed Ladine led the way with 28 points. The 6-foot-1 senior led the team in scoring this season, pouring in 21.6 points per game. Senior Gavin Cox chipped in with 16 points. The 6-foot-7 center, who paced the Bulldogs with more than 15 rebounds per contest, was the team’s second leading scorer with 18 points an outing.

Freshman guard Claxton Ladine contributed 10 points in the loss to the Thunder.

Turlock’s girls had a rough outing in their playoff exit, but coach Erica Hernandez still considers the season a success.

“I was able to work with the team for a whole year and get going on the things that I want to run,” said Hernandez, who took over as head coach midway through the 2021-22 campaign. “We played a tough preseason schedule that helped in league, and we were able to make it to the playoffs. I think we had a really good year.”

Olivia Walker, Lexi Franco, Deja Cox and Addy Krauss will return next year for Hernandez. Walker is the lone starter, though Franco contributed significant minutes this season.

“Lexi was a surprise,” said Hernandez. “I’m excited to have her back next season.”

The boys will lose a quartet  of senior starters in Ladine, Cox, outside threat Jordan Williams, and Josh Weatherbee.

But Claxton Ladine and sophomores Dutch Lawrence and Jeremiah Evans, who recorded four blocks in the playoff loss to Rocklin, will make up a nice nucleus in 2023-24.

Like Hernandez, boys coach Nick Nathanson thinks the season was a good one.

“At the end of the day, we were in every game that we played, save for one,” said Nathanson, referring to a 26-point loss to Clovis East at the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic just before the new year. “And one of the losses we played without Gavin and another without Jed. Basically, we were a handful of possessions from being a 20-win team.”

Minus the clunker against Clovis East, the average margin in the Bulldogs’ other losses was just seven points. They twice lost to Atwater, now 29-0, by five points; they lost to Division III powerhouse Central Catholic by six, and lost three times to undefeated CCAL champ Downey by a combined 13 points. Not bad for a squad that lost nine seniors off last year’s roster and only returned two players — Cox and Ladine — who played significant varsity minutes.

“We have very high expectations for this program,” said Nathanson. “Did we meet all those? No. But in terms of what most programs would encounter after losing nearly their whole team, I think we did a good job.

“I’m very optimistic about next season. Jeremiah is 6-foot-7 and he tells me he’s still growing. We’re expecting him to fill that Gavin Cox role and be our rim protector next season.”

The Bulldogs will also draw from a JV team that won the CCAL title.