TURLOCK — If Halie Bergman isn't prodding her pony to go faster around an arena, or chasing down goats and tying them up, she's probably got a basketball in her hands.
Unless she's at home, where she is usually buried deep in a textbook.
"My parents always told me if you you don't perform in the classroom, you don't perform on the court," the Turlock Christian freshman said. "I have always paid attention to that."
Which is why her parents, Denyse and Leif, are more impressed by the 4.0 grade-point average than her 25-points-a-game scoring average.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
College recruiters are equally impressed, though it will be years before they could hope to see Bergman run the court wearing their colors.
She has scarcely started her high school career, playing only her 14th game Monday night, yet Bergman is experienced well beyond her years.
The 5-foot-9 forward is averaging 25 points, tops in the Stanislaus District and second in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Twice she has scored 34, including in her first-ever prep game.
Bergman's first Southern League game was cut short Monday when she suffered what is believed to be a hyperextended knee early in the first quarter after starting with nine points. She will be examined by a doctor today.
She didn't come to TC as some freshman phenom. Coach Edwin Santiago knew what he had before Bergman stepped on the court.
"She's playing travel ball with the East Bay Xplosion, the same group that had the Paris twins," said Santiago, referring to one-time Modesto Christian stars Courtney and Ashley. "She's been around the country playing top-caliber talent in front of college recruiters. Halie's for real."
Bergman's not your typical freshman, Santiago said, because years of rodeo have toughened her up.
"She's strong and not afraid to get physical," said Santiago, whose Eagles are 11-3 after Monday's Southern League-opening win over Delhi.
Bergman played with the Modesto Slam-N-Jam when she was in third grade, then progressed to the Ceres Shock and Modesto Magic as she continued to improve her game.
She made the leap to the East Bay Explosion in eighth grade, earning a spot on the junior-high squad and going to Los Angeles for a tourney.
"I was playing bigger girls in bigger tournaments, and I enjoyed the challenge," said Bergman, who also averages 3.1 assists, four steals and six rebounds for TC. "Whether rodeo, school or basketball, I like being pushed, having to work hard."
Which is why Bergman needs the Xplosion even more than the AAU team needs her. So long as she plays in the Southern League, she is that proverbial big fish in a small pond.
Knowing that, Santiago encourages the left-hander to work harder on going to her right and using her feet more on defense. Those are skills the Xplosion will demand from her.
"I'm working hard on moves that I can't do yet in AAU, but I know I'm going to have learn," Bergman said. "My dad makes sure of that, too."
TURLOCK CHR. 66, DELHI 21, at Turlock — Kaisa Spycher led all scorers with 18 points, and Molly Farrar had 13 points and seven steals in the Eagles' (11-3) win over the Hawks (3-9). Sarah Duran's 11 points paced Delhi.
TURLOCK 47, DOWNEY 33, at Turlock — Travis Souza scored a game-high 10 points as the Bulldogs downed the Knights. Jason Lee led Downey with nine points, all coming on 3-pointers.
DAVIS 69, FRANKLIN 61, at Davis — Kory Johnson scored 16 points, Donte Walker 14 and Lance Castaneda 13 in the Spartans' (13-4) win.