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Turlock girls bounce back for playoff win
Turlock girls basketball
Turlock's Olivia Walker keeps the ball out of her McNair opponent’s hands during the game Monday evening. The Bulldogs won 48-44 (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Turlock High’s girls basketball team squandered an eight-point lead with less than a minute remaining against McNair, but the Bulldogs fought back for a 48-44 victory in the first round off the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I tournament.

Turlock’s reward? A bus trip to Stockton Tuesday night to take on No. 2 St. Mary’s (20-8), which had its streak of 13 consecutive section titles snapped last season. In a 22-year span between 1999 and 2020, the Rams won 20 section banners. Their 21 overall championships is a section girls basketball record. 

“We can’t look at their record,” said Bulldogs head coach Erica Hernandez, whose team improved to 16-12. “ Upsets happen all the time. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re just going to lay it on the line. That’s all you can do. Just look at our football team.”

Turlock High’s football team delivered one of the biggest upsets in Sac-Joaquin Section history when the seventh-seeded Bulldogs defeated the No. 2 Rams 51-50 to advance to the semifinal round.

Against McNair (17-12), Turlock led 26-13 at halftime, but that lead was whittled to 36-30 heading into the final eight minutes of action.

Turlock extended the lead to eight — 41-33 — midway through the quarter, but McNair embarked on an 11-0 run that gave the Eagles 44-41 lead when Kalysa Phanhsavang hit a three-pointer with 52 seconds to play.

The Bulldogs stopped the slide when senior Macy Brandao (12 points) hit a pair of free throws to make it 44-43 with 31 seconds left.

On McNair’s ensuing possession, the Bulldogs came through with a steal, recapturing the lead on a layup by senior Ella Spaulding (six points).

Olivia Walker (nine points) hit a pair of freebies for THS with 5.2 seconds left to make it 47-44 and Lexi Franco (11 points) hit one of two charity tosses with 0.7 remaining for the final margin.

“I don’t want to say we freaked out, but we lost control for a little while,” said Hernandez. “We’ve been in situations like that before. It seems like we just need to take a deep breath and go execute. We have to use that intensity to our advantage. We were able to settle down and get a bucket when we needed it.”