East County Sports

Knights’ Turk has ‘X’ factor in Saldana

2020 Creme of the Crop game MVP Ellie Turk



EastCountySports.com staff report

SANTEE – Foothills Christian junior standout ELLIE TURK may have found the compliment needed for the Knights to make a run at a league championship and more this season.

Turk, the rising star guard who was the most valuable player at the Creme of the Crop Class of 2020 game late last month, scored 22 points in a season-opening 61-39 road win at Santana on Tuesday evening.

However, it was the play of 6-foot sophomore ARANTXA SALDANA that should make local girls hoops fans take note.

Saldana also had 22 points for the Knights, as the duo put away the Sultans after a tense first quarter.

First, Saldana scored 10 points in the second quarter as FCHS’ defense made possessing the ball difficult for the hosts and the Knights led 29-17 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Foothills Christian got hot from three-point land, including a trio of three-pointers from freshman NATALIE BRAVO, who finished with five treys for 15 points, overall.

Turk, who knocked down a pair of triples in the first quarter, had two more in the third, as the Knights and their suffocating defense, went up by over 30 points.

The victory, as well as the margin, was significant for the Knights since FCHS has moved up to Division IV and the Sultans have moved down to Division III and were a Division II team last season.

Foothills Christian, which is probably the favorite to win the Ocean League this season following the departure of previous league champ Escondido Charter this season, would appear to be a rising club in D4, as well.

Saldana, whose scoring prowess was not limited to the outside, had a team-high nine rebounds and added six assists.

Turk recorded nine steals, eight assists, and five boards.

Bravo contributed three blocks and eight steals.

AALIYAH STONE led the Sultans with 13 points and nine rebounds.

BELLA TERRY knocked down a three-pointer in the first quarter for Santana. Terry finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three steals and four assists.

The Sultans, under new head coach JORDAN FRANEY, out-scored the Knights, 15-5, in the fourth behind six points from JOEY BERKHEIMER.

Franey, a former All-American at Santana who won two CIF titles before moving on to UC Santa Barbara where she played on three Big West Conference championship teams, compiled a 41-40 record over the last three years in her first head coaching stint at San Gabriel High.

The Sultans will play strong host Canyon Crest Academy in the Canyon Crest Academy Tip-Off Classic on Saturday at 7.

The Knights, which play all road games, will face Liberty Charter at Lemon Grove Rec Center on Thursday at 4:30.


LIBERTY CHARTER 37, BAYFRONT CHARTER 19 – The Lions led just 12-6 at halftime and 21-16 at the end of three quarters.

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