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Orion Tomlinson, Tyus Parrish-Tillman, chasing greatness

It’s not everyday that freshmen and sophomores take on the role of varsity captain and starting player. For sophomores Orion Tomlinson and Tyus Parrish-Tillman, this was their journey. The 24/7 boys have helped the Eagles with an impressive season so far and led them to an undefeated, 10-0, East Sierra League season, Feb. 12. The Eagles have a 23-6 overall record.

In the following podcast, senior sports journalist Richie Cortez discusses future playoff potential for Fresno Christian’s varsity basketball team.

Sophomores take on upperclassman role

The Fresno Christian boys basketball team has been off to a hot start since starting the season in November. The dynamic duo of Tomlinson and Parrish-Tillman has led the Eagles to multiple hard fought wins over higher division teams. Their most impressive win comes from “The Road to Selland Basketball Showcase” against the Fowler Redcats.

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Tyus Parrish-Tillman, ’22, shoots with a two-handed dunk off a fast break against Kings Christian, Feb. 7.

According to MaxPreps, coming into the game, Fowler had a win percentage of .826 and were 7-0 against neutral opponents. 

In this game, the Eagles had a field goal percentage of 42.6 percent and scored 40 points in the paint. FC fought all night for a win, with a final score of 61-57. The Eagles shot 2/15 from the three point line and allowed 15 turnovers; Fowler scored 19 points off of those turnovers. 

Parrish-Tillman assists the team in points per game (PPG), rebounds and blocks. The 6’8 sophomore is responsible for 72.6 percent of the Eagles blocks this season. As a freshman last year, he ranked second in blocks per game nationally, according to MaxPreps.

Tomlinson contributes in his own way, averaging 4.7 assists per game with a 31 percent average. The sophomore averages 12.5 PPG, just behind his AAU teammate Parrish-Tillman, who leads with 19.6 PPG.

Head coach of the varsity basketball team Jon Penberthy shared his thoughts on how these underclassmen came into the varsity picture eager and determined to win. 

“Their skill level is not of a freshman when they first came in,” Penberthy said. “The amount of games they’ve played and amount of hours they put into a gym, you knew they were ahead of a vast majority of freshman. So it was fun to get kids where you could do some big things with them instead of starting from the basics.” 

Step by step

Last season’s team ended their year with a first-round exit at Orange Cove. Heading into the playoff picture, the team draws determination from last year’s shortcomings, knowing they can make it to the Valley championship. The boys’ goal for this year is to make it to Selland Arena, simple as that. 

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Orion Tomlinson, ’22, scouts out the defense and eyes an offensive opportunity for his team against Kings Christian.

To prepare for the higher competition later in the season, the build up began back in the summer. From early morning practices to scrimmages, the team has been in several tournaments before the start of their regular league season.

From playing basketball as a child, to leading a varsity team into playoffs, basketball has played a “varsity role” in Tomlinson’s life. Through it all, his family supports him and challenges him to perform his best.

“My family moved locations so I could have a basketball court in my house,” Tomlinson said. We also have a shooting machine so I could get better.”

Taking on opponents such as McLane, Sunnyside, Fresno High and Hoover, Tomlinson touches on the subject of playing higher caliber teams and their benefits in the long run. 

“It put us at a mentality where we know we’re good, but we’re not as good as these teams so we need to get hard to be where they’re at,” Tomlinson said. “I think we could get better, we can take this chance a little more seriously. Having that grit that we need to play our best every night no matter the team.” 

For more of this interview, make sure to check out the podcast “Richie Cortez discusses playoff potential with sophomore duo” above!

For more of Cortez’s interviews, check out Richie Cortez discusses Bekah Micu’s return from injury and Angel Ruelas eyes professional soccer career after Italian trip.

Follow the Eagles as they next begin play in the CIF Central Section Division V basketball playoffs. If they make it to the final game, they will play at Selland Arena, Feb. 28. Stay tuned to The Feather and its social media feeds for more information.

Richie Cortez can be reached via Twitter @richie_cortez9 and via email

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.

The following slideshow includes images of Parrish Tillman and Tomlinson competing in the Road to Selland Showcase.

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