SACRAMENTO — There's a new dynasty dominating Division 5 girls' basketball in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and Turlock Christian ran into it.
When the section promoted Modesto Christian's potent program to D-4 two years ago, it felt the move would make the postseason more competitive for the smallest schools.
A nice idea, had it worked.
Bradshaw Christian, replicating the template MC used earlier this decade, has filled that power vacuum and become just as overwhelming.
"They're quick, their inside game is strong and they shoot well," said Molly Farrar, noting just a few of Bradshaw's strengths. "I think we got a little psyched out by them."
Bradshaw had plenty to do with that, using a 22-3 second-quarter on its way to a 67-25 victory over TC in Friday's D-5 title game at Arco Arena.
It was Bradshaw's third consecutive title (MC won two in a row before going D-4 to face larger schools) and completed an impressive playoff run.
Pressure defense, 3-point shooting and Cheyenne Williams — a 6-1 transfer off to the University of San Diego — put the Pride ahead of the pack.
Bradshaw (22-8) had beaten its first three playoff foes by an average score of 80-20, so No. 2 seed TC (26-5) came closer than anyone to an upset.
Perhaps that's why the Eagles are eager for a rematch in next year's section final.
"We have four starters back and good kids are coming up from Sally Wright's JV team, so we're heading in the right direction," said TC coach Edwin Santiago, whose school's last section final was in 1988.
Farrar, a 5-foot-9 swing player, should be joined again by 6-2 Marly Burton, 6-foot Kaisa Spycher and 5-9 Halie Bergman — a freshman averaging 24 points a game before tearing an ACL in early January.
The good news for TC is its season isn't over. The Eagles are in the NorCal playoffs — Ripon Christian, which fell to TC in the semifinals, also is advancing — and could host a regional opener on Tuesday.
Pairings and home sites are going to be announced today.
It's going to take a dedicated off-season for the Eagles to approach Bradshaw's caliber — and Santiago says it all begins in April with travel ball.
"We had 27 games last year and we hope to play at least as many this year," said Santiago, who will take the team to tournaments in the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. "We're going to work hard on defending off the screen, and I think by doing that, we'll become a better team at using screens."
That was a struggle against Bradshaw, as the Eagles rarely got an open look at the basket. The Pride was more than quick enough to stay with the shooters, and the screens did not provide much of an obstacle for an aggressive defense.
That's part of the reason TC shot 17 percent (8 of 47) and scored a season-low 25 points.
Only once had TC been held under 48 — a 35-point effort in a loss to Le Grand. It had won eight in a row after that loss, a streak that ended Friday.
"Our goal at the start of the season was to play in Arco, so that's a great one to achieve," Spycher said. "Now, we come back next year to try and take it a step further. We've got a lot of experience returning."
While Spycher and Burton work on their inside games in travel ball, TC's guards need to get accustomed to the trey and improve their accuracy from the 14- to 17-foot range.
TC was good for 64 points a game despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor, giving Santiago and his girls motivation to get busy in the gym.
The return of Bergman also will help. She provides another scorer, ballhandler and defender — and a level of confidence that can't be replaced.
She would have made it closer, but Bradshaw's Williams (nine points, nine boards)and Ashlee Jones (20 points, eight boards) were just too fast and talented for TC to contain.