A fourth quarter catastrophe cost the Turlock Christian High boys’ basketball team an opportunity to move on to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Tournament.
Instead, plagued by one bad call that swung the momentum in favor of last year's Section champions, TC lost to Victory Christian, 50-63, at home on Wednesday night.
“We beat them once already this year and we hoped to move forward and knock out the defending section champs, but it didn't work that way,” said TC head coach Eddie Sai. “They came out ready to play because they want to repeat.”
With a quarterfinal matchup set at home and a healthy team since the prior meeting back on Jan. 2, where TC won 71-58, the Eagles were eager to repeat, but instead one play created a lopsided fourth quarter.
“They were feeding into the jersey pulling,” said Sai. “You gotta give Victory credit because they played hard and worked hard but our “bigs” couldn't do anything since they were getting yanked and pulled and no fouls were being called.”
The referees made contentious calls all night against the home team but one major technical foul call eventually cost the home team a taste at victory.
The Eagles of TC took the lead late in the second quarter and went up 25-22 at the halfway mark.
After being up 41-39 by the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles seemed destined for a surging quarter, especially after controlling the boards for most of the night, but the focus was lost and Victory's Mark Furtado and Tyler O'Day went off.
“It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes,” Sai said. “You go quarter by quarter and then you start to move the chess pieces around and hope they work and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Victory is a good team, they are tough.”
Combined, Furtado (22) and O'Day (27) scored 17 of the team’s 24 points in the fourth quarter alone and together scored 49 of the team’s 63 points.
The technical foul was called just minutes into the fourth quarter against TC and from there the Vikings went on a 24-9 surge to clinch a spot in the next round and the Eagles were out in the first round of the postseason for the second consecutive season.
“I think that as a player you can only take so much,” Sai said. “When it seems like you get some referees from who knows where, maybe from their area, and their other guys are pulling on the jerseys and then someone is bound to snap and that’s what happened.”
Jordan Riise ended his final varsity game with a double-double adding on 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Drake Dutra led all Eagles in scoring with 20.
On the bright side, TC did make history.
“No TC boys’ basketball team has ever gone to the postseason three years in a row and we accomplished that this year,” said Sai. “Expectations were very high and that is why we went out and played the teams we did all season long and to see us fall now kind of sucks but that is just the way it is.”
TC ends the season having lost four of their last five games to end the year with an 11-16 overall record.
“We will see what we can do next year moving forward from a year like this and competing in a new and very tough league,” Sai added.