For only the fourth time in school history the Turlock Christian girls’ basketball squad is moving on to the Sac Joaquin Section D-VI championship game after trouncing Sacramento Adventist 52-38, in the semifinal game on Thursday night.
TC traveled all the way to Carmichael and brought a large group of fans and parents of their own as they took on the SA Capitals in a game that would be decided by the number of steals that the Eagles came away with — 36.
Despite being undersized, the Eagles were able to outhustle and outperform the Capitals with their quickness and determination as they proved to be worthy of a title shot and hopefully a first section title in school history next week.
“We frustrated them but it was a good game through and through,” TC head coach Edwin Santiago said. “We beat them with speed but they were taller than us but our speed is what killed and that hyped up our girls — points off turnovers. There were lots of fans who came a distance to travel, they were maybe as loud as the opponents’ team. it was equally loud for both squads.”
Of those leaders in steals were sophomores Cassie Balswick and Meghan Mark, who have played like like upperclassmen and leaders of the team.
Balswick finished with a double-double as she added 12 points to go with her 10 steals. Mark finished with 10 steals, respectively.
With the help of Victoria Vieira inside the glass, TC was in control of the paint as she made key rebounds and with her strength, would box out the opponents to clear the way for her teammates.
Vieira was one rebound shy of a double-double after topping out with 9 rebounds and 10 points.
“Vieira had key rebounds for us. She battled and boxed out and she led all rebounders but the fact she kept the other team off the boards,” Santiago said. “She came out strong; not the tallest but she was the strongest despite the lack of height. She refused to give up.
The only lead for the Capitals of SA came after the first quarter with a low score of 10-6, but that would be the only time the Eagles would be cold.
TC went to work afterwards as they found themselves with a three-point lead by the mid-way mark.
It was still tight by the end of the third up only 38-32, but a 15-6 run in the fourth quarter was enough for the Eagles to punch in the ticket to the title game and the opportunity to give their school a section title banner if they can beat Valley Christian, whom they lost to earlier in the year 59-47.
“Emotionally we were all there and rooting for each other and the girls were motivated. They didn’t want to go home. We came together like that and we weren’t intimated and the girls really wanted it,” Santiago added. “We left it out on the court if we lost, there was no tomorrow — in basketball that is.”
This time, coach Santiago feels his team can finish what they couldn’t back in December after battling through tough teams this year but knows the Lions of VC are no walk in the park as they deserved that number one-seed.
“Well we lost to VC before and it’s not impossible it should be the greatest chance as far as the equality with our team,” Santiago said. “We will give it our best shot. It will be an upset if we win. We’re not as young anymore, we are seasoned. The young was at the beginning, now this is like the second season we know each other and strengths.”
March 6 will be the D-VI SJS girls’ basketball championship game at Galt High as the Eagles of TC will square off against the Lions of Valley Christian with the game set to begin at 6 p.m.