For the third year in a row the Turlock Christian (20-9) varsity girls’ basketball team made the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section championship game, and for the third straight year they lost.
However, this time it was at the hands of Sacramento Waldorf and their 6-foot-3 center, Lillian Olson, who helped her team capture the win after a matchup that will go down as one of the most dominating performances in a section title game.
Olson finished Thursday's game from Galt High with a staggering game-high 35 points and added 27 rebounds and six blocks as the Waves made moves in the fourth and final quarter to secure the 59-51 win.
“Yeah it’s sad, disappointing, but we also know that it is not the end of the world or the end of our lives. It’s not a tragedy but disappointment is the best word,” said TC head coach Edwin Santiago.
It wasn't disappointing for TC until the fourth quarter when the Waves went on to outscore TC with a 19-10 run.
Olson had 14 of her 35 points in a seven minute span and had the Eagles of TC playing helpless on the defensive side, even after initially attempting to double-team Olson.
It didn't work.
The dominant senior went on to control the paint and make shots from the inside with ease. She played all 32 minutes.
Olson also wreaked havoc on the defensive glass, hovering over her TC opponents and waiting to either get another block or rebound after every shot attempted by TC.
“We had a very difficult time keeping the ball from her,” said Santiago. “They did an excellent job of breaking the press so we didn't get as many turnovers as we have wanted but it was tough to keep the ball away from her and she was very strong when she had the ball in the paint.”
The Eagles also had one of their worse performances of the year, shooting wise.
TC went on to make only 19 of 93 shots from the field, including no threes.
If that wasn't enough of a struggle, the Eagles only made 13 of 36 free throws, including just 2 of 8 in the fourth alone.
“They were able to last four quarters,” said Santiago. “They hung for four quarters so they were in great shape and ran the court well and there is nothing else we can really do since we weren't really able to break the press or stop Lillian [Olson] from getting the ball.”
Cassie Balswick had a team-high 13 points and added nine assists and 13 steals. Cali Russell had eight points and 16 rebounds. Brooke Rodrigues had 8 points, Meghan Mark added 7 steals and Mikayla Yagi had five points and 11 rebounds.
TC will now move on to the state tournament. Their opponent has yet to be named, but the game is scheduled to be on the road on Wednesday.
“It’s not devastating, but it is sad,” said Santiago. “Our nine seniors tried to focus on what they enjoy — knowing that the sun will rise tomorrow and that we will have the opportunities to transition into the future and some new opportunities will come about. Not much we can do now.
“I thought that the team came together very well, even in defeat they didn't blame anybody,” Santiago added. “They accepted responsibility for the loss and the relationships we had will carry on from this day forward since we all feel like a family.”