For the second time in three years, the Turlock Christian girls’ basketball unit fell in the section title game, this time to Valley Christian, in a game that didn’t seem to fall TC’s way from the outset.
VC jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, then after that the Eagles of TC had to play catch up from there on and a 9-6 run in the final three minutes seem to be enough for the Lions as they topped the Eagles, 54-47, in the Division-IV Sac Joaquin Section finale at Galt High on Thursday night.
“The girls came out with enthusiasm and performed very well because they knew their time out there was very limited, so they played with everything they had but we just had to play catch up the whole game and we couldn’t turn it over and that was frustrating,” Turlock Christian head coach Edwin Santiago said.
The Lions built an 11 point lead by half but as the Eagles began the third, they struck with a vengeance. The only problem was when they scored two, the Lions would tack on two or more as the lead seemed to never decrease by less than two possessions.
With the Lions holding on to the lead for a majority of the game, the Eagles found it tough to come back and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Eagles had cut the deficit to four-points with four minutes left at 45-41.
This would be the only daylight that TC would see as they failed to make critical free-throws down the stretch and the tiredness of the team took a toll after the run and gun type of attack that VC ran along with the double-team pressure.
“I knew it was going to be a run and gun type of game because that is their style and what they play, a gun style of offense and we had two five person lineups ready to sub in,” Santiago said.
VC was led by a handful of underclassmen that included junior Lily Hagerty who drained a game-high 23 points for the game along the relentless effort on both sides of the court from Erika Lyon, Jenny Frank and Angelina Contreras.
“I told the girls that the sun will rise tomorrow. I know it doesn’t feel good right now that we lost, but we got something positive to come from this and that is just the way we believe. A loss is a loss and we must take it for what it is,” Santiago said. “I know they fought hard for it, we didn’t just give it to them and for that I am thankful and proud of them. We just need to try again next year.”
The Eagles effort was there till the closing minutes as Meghan Mark and Cassie Balswick cramped up in the closing minutes of the game. Mark would be subbed out, but Balswick remained in the game with only a minute left and fought through it. Mark and Balswick each finished with six points apiece.
“Cassie [Baslwick] and Meghan [Mark] cramped up in the last minute, but that is a sign that they gave everything they had, they had nothing left,” Santiago said about her dual threat.
Leading the Eagles on offense for the night was sophomore Aimee Jones who finished with a team-high 17 points, finishing at 199 for the year, one shy of her 200 point goal for the season.
“We had a great season. We were told we might not win as many games this year because we were young and were mostly underclassmen, but we did great overall and surprised a lot of people I think but we just did our best,” Jones said. “I think it will help since we are all coming back together, stronger and we hope to come back here next year and win it… that’s our goal.”
The TC girls’ basketball squad looks to return 11 of their 12 players from this year’s squad as they hope to make a run next year, but with a different outcome — a win.
“I have not won a section title game yet. It’s not a good feeling but I can’t blame the girls,” Santiago said. “Our thing for next year is we have majority of these girls coming back.”