It was a bittersweet ending for the Turlock Christian boys’ basketball unit on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Sac Joaquin Section D-VI tournament against Stockton Christian.
Up by one with just over a second left in regulation, TC found themselves up but after a timeout by SC, junior guard Jacob Araya caught a pass from the opposite side of the court and dribbled it just a few feet away from the mid-court line and tossed up the game-winning basket to give the sixth-seeded SC a 71-69 thrilling win over the third-seeded TC.
“It is tough. You watch it and it looked like it might have bounced off the backboard but it was an uncanny shot,” ,” TC assistant head coach Mark Brown said. “We fought back but they kept staying with it. I said with 1.3 seconds it’s enough to bring it down and take a shot after a few dribbles and he [Araya] made it. We wanted to appeal but it isn’t college or professional ball. It was nearly from three-quarters of the court and we did everything but he had enough space and was able to get it perfectly.”
Araya of SC drained four three’s and scored 14 of his 17 total points in the second half—none more important than the buzzer beater that soared his team over TC.
Along with Araya, it was the 6-foot-8 sophomore of SC, Cameron Pieters who helped SC maintain a steady lead for a majority of the game in the paint as he contested all shots coming near the rim with his long arms and reach.
Four players scored in double-digits for SC which included Araya (17), JR Villa (13), Jeremy Flores (11) and Pieters who topped out with a game-high 25 points.
“I hate to lose those close ones,” Brown said with a saddened heart and disbelief in his voice. “I told the kids this week that they [SC] won 16 games and not to be deceived by the game film watched. They were good dribblers and they penetrated successfully but also made those open shots.”
Things looked sour for the Turlock Christian Eagles boys’ basketball team at home on Wednesday night as they found themselves down in the fourth quarter 46-64 with just over six minutes left in regulation.
A 23-4 run by TC that was concluded with an Egan Farrar lay-up after Jordan Riise inbounded a pass directly under the basket, gave the Eagles a 69-68 lead with under 10 seconds left.
The defense held SC from scoring and were then forced to foul TC’s Riise with 1.3 seconds left, but Riise missed the opportunity to take a three-point lead with his free-throws and instead SC was able to recuperate by taking a timeout and draw up the winning play that bounced off the backboard and in.
“We missed a few open shots and critical free-throws down the stretch that could’ve helped secure that win and that was crucial. That is the thing I told the kids that free throws will either help us win or will cost us to fall short,” Brown said about the final seconds.
While the crowd was going wild by the timeout, it took less than 10 seconds for the TC crowd to completely and humbly quiet down as the game winning shot was one to remember and left the TC fans and players in complete shock and disbelief.
“Some of the games earlier in the year we let up and didn’t play as aggressive defensively, but we fought back in the end and took the lead and we tried changing the defense but then [SC] would hit their open shots so we had to adjust,” Brown said.
It was statistically one of the cleanest games for TC this year, who did not turn the ball over as often as usual and three players scored over 10 points which were Farrar, who finished with a team-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and Seth Retemeyer, who tallied 12 points, 2 steals and 2 assists.
Riise notched a double-double and played an impressive game as he tacked on 14 points and 12 rebounds.
After the most successful year in nearly a decade, the Turlock Christian Eagles, who topped out with 18 wins this year and finished 10-4 in their final year with the Southern Athletic League, will return nine of their 13 players from this year’s roster for next season and coach Brown feels that it will be different turnaround for the better.
“That is what I said, we can’t give up, the seniors are done so the juniors are coming back and hopefully they can remember this as a learning curve and how we got upset at home. One of this things that happens and hard to take but we will built since we have our big line coming back,” Brown added.