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Turlock boys secure first round playoff win
Turlock boys basketball 1
Gavin Cox, pictured here during an earlier season game, was instrumental in helping his Bulldogs nab a first round playoff victory on the road Friday against Capital Christian (Journal file photo).

The ninth seed Turlock High boys basketball team opened up the playoffs on the road Friday against ninth seed Capital Christian Cougars. The Bulldogs took an early lead and never looked back to get a round one victory in the CIF SJS Division I Section Playoffs. 

“One thing I never have to worry about this team is their confidence,” said head coach Nick Nathanson. “This team never gets timid and believes they can win every game. I believe this team could beat any team in the state.”

The game started with a familiar theme for the Bulldogs this season, junior Gavin Cox crashing the offense's boards and getting Turlock second chance opportunities. They were able to capitalize on those opportunities, and jumped out to a 12-1 lead to start off the first. The Cougars made a couple of threes to stop the Bulldogs from running away with it, and Turlock had a 14-7 lead after one.

The second quarter started with a three from senior Kyle Ericksen and he did a bulk of the scoring for the Bulldogs in the quarter. Cox kept the pressure on the boards and had two blocks in the quarter to limit the Cougars opportunities. Senior Daniel Malagon hit a three from near half court and the Bulldogs went into the half up 36-28.

“Gavin Cox is really the anchor of our team,” said Nathanson. “His ability to get rebounds and give us seconds is really instrumental in helping us win games.”

The second half opened up with the Bulldogs drawing fouls on shots to the basket and knocking down their free throws. Cox and Ericksen kept up their aggressive play and were capitalizing on second chance opportunities to open up the lead. The Bulldogs took a 52-35 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Cougars, knowing that their season was on the line, started playing press defense and got some turnovers to get the deficit back to single digits. However, Malagon and Ericksen adjusted well and hit some open shots to open up the lead again and the Bulldogs went home with the 71-54 victory.

The Bulldogs will be on the road again on Friday as they take on number one seed Inderkum High School in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m.

“I don’t think we played our best game yet,” said Nathanson. “We’re still undefeated on the road, the guys seem to just play a lot looser on the road. We’re going into the game knowing we have what it takes to knock them (Inderkum) off.”