Garza finds range at the perfect time

FOLSOM -- Welcome back, Taryn. We've all missed you.

Modesto Christian's junior forward, good for 13 points a game this season, was mired in a slump the last two weeks.

That was punctuated by a 2-for-24 performance over the last two games -- and just six points in the MC's first two NorCal tournament games.

She put that behind her Saturday, scoring MC's first four points and eight of its first 17 in the regional title game.

"I tried not to think about it, but I knew I had been struggling and I wanted to make it right," the 5-foot-11-inch Garza said. "I just slowed it down and focused on the shot, just like my coach had told me."

She finished with 12 points, hitting 6 of 9 from the floor.

Garza hit two quick inside shots, another in transition and hit her most important shot -- a jumper from the free-throw line -- to put MC ahead 17-14 in the second quarter.

"St. Mary's saw our last few box scores and didn't see her as a threat," said coach Robb Spencer, who had Garza skip the Crusaders' shootaround on Friday. "I didn't want her thinking about her shooting. T does so much for us, she's valuable if she doesn't score."

But the question after two NorCal wins was how far the Crusaders could go without Garza's production inside?

Fortunately, that question wasn't answered with a loss.

"We've got a team of girls capable of stepping in and scoring, that's what got us here," said Spencer, whose team faces Catholic of Chula Vista (29-3) in Saturday's state final at Arco Arena. "T's a difference- maker, though.

"When she hit the first few shots, we knew she was back. It's going to be great to have T back for next week's game."