Turlock High girls basketball coach Erica Hernandez, who stepped in to take over Turlock High’s girls basketball program midway through the 2020-21 season, was able to fully put her stamp on the program this offseason with summer- and fall-league competition.
On top of that, she has eight seniors returning from last year’s squad, as well as four out of the five starters.
“They’ve been able to play together a whole year now,” said Hernandez. “We’ve been able to work together in the summer and fall and just kind of work at being a team, learning a new system and competing.”
That work has paid off. Though the Bulldogs are off to a 2-4 start, those losses have come to solid programs.
“Oh, yeah, you can definitely see the improvement when we’re playing,” said Hernandez. “The tough competition and the work we’ve put in is starting to show. We’re getting better each time we play.”
Hernandez likes to press the pace on both ends of the floor.
“We’re a quick team so we try to use their speed to get them going on offense,” said Hernandez. “Defensively, we like to put pressure on the ball. We use a couple of different press defenses. We’re a good, solid defensive team.”
Hernandez believes that her experienced roster will be in the mix for the Central California Athletic League title.
“Realistically, we can win league and hopefully make it past the first round in the playoffs,” Hernandez, a Pitman High graduate. “That’s definitely the goal. We’re just getting better each time we play and building our basketball IQs.”
Hernandez, too, has learned a lot over the past year.
“I think I’ve had time to understand to run a program and not just be a varsity coach, but help all the programs and get my system going,” Hernandez said. “I know the girls pretty well, I coached some as freshmen and now I get to have them again.
“I’m comfortable with what I’m doing and how this all coming together.”
Coach: Erica Hernandez, second season
Key losses: Kodi Nairn, played all positions.
Key returners: Alexis Goularte, G/F, Macy Brandao, G; Emilie Snyder, G, Olivia Walker, Jr., G; Ella Spaulding, Sr, C; Erin Azevedo, Sr., F.
Last season: 11-16 overall, 3-7 CCAL.
2022 outlook: With so many returning seniors, the Bulldogs are one of the most experienced teams in the CCAL. That experience will be key as they try to supplant Pitman and Gregori atop the conference standings.