There are few words to describe how the Turlock Christian varsity boys’ basketball season panned out after Wednesday's unsuspected turnout that earned them a postseason berth—miracle could be one word.
TC finished the year with consecutive victories in the Central California Athletic Alliance but was also looking for some things to work in their favor if they wished to move on.
When the regular season ended on Tuesday night, the CCAA was looking at a five-way tie for the third spot that included TC and four other schools.
With the acceptance of the athletic directors of all schools, names were drawn out of a hat to decide the two teams which would play for a buy-in to earn the third and final spot. TC was one of them and Venture Academy was the other.
In their previous meeting, TC had lost to VA on Jan. 31, by three points, but knew this time the stakes were much higher and they were playing for their postseason life.
TC toppled VA 47-41 in a neutral site at Big Valley Christian High as the Eagles celebrated one of the more bizarre endings to a regular season.
“Sometimes people don't see a Super Bowl go into overtime until this year and a five-way tie happened as well this year if that tells you anything,” said TC head coach Eddie Sai. “Biggest thing for me is not how you start it’s how you finish and it’s great to see how kids are coming together and community.”
TC, who had missed the playoffs last season, was a team still in search of its identity throughout the season. It didn't help that they were hampered by injuries in the middle of the year that led to them playing with as little as seven players. They unfortunately lost five straight during that stretch, however, continued to hold on to any glimpse of hope.
That hope transpired down the stretch with the team’s commitment and ability to dig deep and play within their capabilities.
Coach Sai even moved up junior varsity players to help with depth.
“I ended up having to pull some JV players but we never gave up hope. I had to keep believing we could get there,” said Sai. “I don't believe in luck. I believe in favor and when you do the right thing there is something greater than yourself.”
TC has really stepped up their game and it even helped playing a Division I team in Golden Valley last Saturday in an exhibition contest to prepare the team, said Sai.
“We are peaking at the right time and defense has been real solid,” said Sai. “It also helps we played bigger and tougher teams like GV before the year ended and our top teams in Brookside and Elliot Christian, who are fantastic teams.”
In Wednesday's game Max Tyson added another double-double with 12 rebounds and 17 points. Mason Mark added 11 points and Caleb Hoag finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, six steals and six assists.