Since Edwin Santiago took over the girls basketball program at Turlock Christian High School, the Eagles have posted a 180-64 record while making yearly deep ventures into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
But it took this year’s team to really make history.
By virtue of Thursday’s 48-34 victory over Sacramento Waldorf, Turlock Christian not only earned a trip to the Division VI finals, but also grabbed a spot in the inaugural NorCal Division VI regionals.
“I haven’t thought about it much,” Santiago said. “But the girls are very excited about it, especially my five seniors. Once they realized they have more than one game left – no matter what happens in the final – they let out a whoop. The seniors want to hold onto this for as long as they can, but my focus is on beating Valley Christian.”
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The Eagles (21-8) will battle the Lions (24-3) for the section crown Thursday at 6 p.m. at Galt High School. It will be a rematch of last year’s title game, won 54-47 by Valley Christian.
Turlock Christian jumped on Sacramento Waldorf in the first half and built a 32-12 halftime lead by smothering Lillian Olsen, the Waves’ 6-foot-2 junior center who averages 23.4 points and 16.7 rebounds. The Eagles used KK Yagi and Tori Vieira to sandwich Olsen inside, and the ploy worked until the Eagles got into second-half foul trouble.
But even with Olsen finishing with 19 points, the Waves never made much of a run at Turlock Christian, which got 17 points from Cali Russell and 11 each from Hannah Sawyer and Meghan Clark.
“It was a nice to see the girls step it up to play tonight,” Santiago said. “It showed they do have a desire to play on. Some teams get tired as the season goes on, but that’s not the case with this group.”
In other playoff games, Ripon Christian defeated Millennium 57-51 and Argonaut topped Forest Lake Christian 55-18 to advance to the Division V semifinals, while Gustine was ousted 51-23 by Capital Christian. Ripon Christian will meet Woodland Christian and Argonaut will battle Capital Christian in Wednesday’s semifinals at Galt.
In Division IV, Sonora fell 69-34 to Bradshaw Christian and Livingston dropped a 102-53 decision to Brookside Christian.