Turlock High has won the Central California Conference boys basketball championship for the first time since the 2010-11 season after defeating the defending CCC title holders, Golden Valley High, 52-36 on Friday.
The Bulldogs beat the Cougars with bookend quarters from its defense as they allowed only five points in the first quarter and only three points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.
“I’m especially happy for the seniors because they won league as sophomores, so this kind of puts the stamp on the work they put in as sophomore to repeat their senior year,” Turlock head coach Doug Cornfoot said. “Defensively, we stepped up and played very good. I’ve got to give them credit, they played their hearts out all the way until the end.”
Turlock entered the game riding a four-game win streak, having lost their last game to the Cougars by a margin of three points in the final seconds of the game. Boasting a 7-1 league record, Turlock knew it had to beat the 6-2 Cougars to seal their championship and prevent Golden Valley from winning league for the fourth year in a row.
“We’ve had so many battles with them, and been so close, with highs and lows. They’re a well-coached team and every time you play them you’ve got to bring you’re A-game,” Cornfoot said.
After leading 14-5 at the end of the first quarter, Turlock watched Golden Valley close the gap to 21-17 by halftime. The Bulldogs outscored their opponent by two points in the third quarter to make it 31-25 at the beginning of the fourth, but as they’ve done so many times in the past the Cougars roared back.
With about three minutes in regulation, Golden Valley took a one-point lead as it looked to spoil Turlock’s championship ambitions. That’s when junior Habib Velasquez took the game in his hands and went on a solo seven-point run to put his team back in the lead position.
“He just dominated the offensive boards,” Cornfoot said of Velasquez.
Turlock also benefited from solid shooting from the free-throw line as its players went 15 for 18 in the fourth quarter.
“We watched game film and we made adjustments to some of the things that we thought we did wrong the first time. But the big thing is we hit free throws down the stretch,” Cornfoot said. “That kept that eight to ten point lead and made it difficult for them to try and get any kind of decent shot.”
Velasquez finished the game with a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds. Demsen McFaddin and Devan Bains scored a respective 17 and 11 points while Travis Cook put in a well-rounded performance with eight points and eight rebounds.
Turlock now has one final game in the CCC before the post-season begins as they prepare to host rival Pitman High on Wednesday.
“We want to go out on a high note; we want to make sure we have every opportunity to get a decent seeding for playoffs,” Cornfoot said. “And it’s Pitman, so there shouldn’t be really much motivation needed because it always brings it upon itself.”
“I don’t want to go out on a losing note and have to get ready for playoffs. So we’re going to get after it like it’s the game we have to win to win league,” he added.