High School Sports

Modesto Christian comes up big

Modesto Christian's Taryn Garza (33) and Jessica Graham (21) tower over Escalon's Noelle Bellino during play at Escalon on Thursday night.  The Visiting Crusaders walked away with a 64-9 victory.
Modesto Christian's Taryn Garza (33) and Jessica Graham (21) tower over Escalon's Noelle Bellino during play at Escalon on Thursday night. The Visiting Crusaders walked away with a 64-9 victory. Modesto Bee

ESCALON -- It's no longer just Modesto Christian High's boys that are terrorizing the Trans-Valley League. The girls are downright dominant, too.

With a mix of homegrown players and talented transfers, the Crusaders routed Escalon 64-9 Thursday to cement their standing as the class of the TVL.

"We had a pretty doggone team before Jessica (Graham) began playing," said coach Robb Spencer, referring to the 6-foot-1 senior from Ripon. "She has made this a great team."

Graham, who became eligible two weeks ago, had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists as MC (11-1, 2-0) held the Cougars (5-7, 0-1) to two points or less in three of four quarters.

"We were diving for the loose balls in the third and fourth quarter, and that's effort we expect," Spencer said. "We don't let the score affect our hustle."

MC's balanced attack included 5-10 sophomore Taryn Garza (12 points, six rebounds), 5-8 junior Stefani Agostini (11 points) and 6-foot junior Lauren Lucchesi (seven points, seven rebounds) -- who have been playing since they were freshmen.

"We're a solid team, we move the ball around and we're tough on defense," Spencer said. "We look for the open player. It's the most unselfish team I've had."

The Crusaders, The Bee's top-ranked small-school, used crisp passing to score the game's first 20 points. They hit their first nine shots, including a 22-foot 3-pointer from Agostini and three inside shots by Graham.

The athletic Garza played on top of the zone press, using her long arms to make life difficult for Escalon's guards. MC also got a boost from sophomore Marinna McKeever, a transfer from Waterford who hit a trey.

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