The Turlock High boys basketball team completed a clean sweep of the Merced High Bears on Wednesday with a 50-46 victory. The Bulldogs (9-4 CCC) were challenged early and often by a Merced (3-9 CCC) team with nothing to lose in another victory that was too close for comfort.
Merced opened the game with a Keith Boldon three-pointer, taking a lead that would last for the majority of the first quarter. A pair of Turlock threes by Alek Carlson and Tyler Murphy helped the Bulldogs overtake the Bears in the final seconds of the first quarter by a score of 13-6. The second quarter was nearly even with Turlock scoring 11 points and Merced scoring 10, as both teams continued to notch three point plays. At the half Turlock led 24-16
“They battled,” Turlock’s head coach Doug Cornfoot said. “They didn’t shoot well in the first (quarter) but then they started hitting threes. Luckily we kept our composure.”
The Bears kicked off the second half with three treys, two of which came from Boldon who had four on the night. With a minute left in the third quarter Merced held a four point lead as Turlock’s offense had difficulty converting points. Seconds before the fourth quarter Murphy, who has developed a penchant for dropping last second, game changing treys, put one in from the three point line to cut Merced’s lead by a point.
Murphy and Carlson hit another pair of three point shots in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to retake the lead, but the Bears refused to back down. Boldon’s fourth trey tied the game with 5:25 left in regulation, setting up a nail biting end that saw three lead changes and three ties. With 2:40 on the clock Murphy came through once again with a clutch trey to give Turlock another one point lead. Murphy ended with four treys on the night. The Bulldogs took advantage of Merced fouls in the final seconds of the game to finish the Bears off.
“He’s got confidence to shoot, “Cornfoot said of Murphy. “We need that other scorer; we can’t count on Carlson and Holcombe to be our lone scorers.”
Friday games change up league standings
Atwater High’s upset over Pitman High on Wednesday night broke the three way tie for second place in the CCC between the Pride, Turlock and Buhach High. Turlock entered its game against Atwater on Friday with one goal in mind, avoid a Falcon upset and stay in the hunt for first place. Pitman (8-5 CCC), on the other hand, faced league leaders Golden Valley High in a do or die game with serious implications on not only the CCC title hunt but playoffs as well.
For three quarters Turlock led and controlled the Falcons but by the fourth quarter the Bulldogs once again found themselves in a nerve racking battle for the win. With 20 seconds left in regulation Turlock led by a point but with 2.6 seconds on the clock Atwater drew a foul and stepped up to the line. With another chance at upsetting a Turlock school Atwater took its two shots but only one found its mark, sending the two teams into overtime 44-44. Carlson, Dashawn Holcombe and Austin Bush refused to let the game slip away, however, and helped Turlock outscore Atwater 9-3 in the overtime period for a 53-47 win.
Pitman’s matchup with the Cougars had a rocky start. Golden Valley held a consistent lead over the Pride for the first half but by the second half Pitman’s offense began to work the court and make a run at the Cougar lead. In the middle of a late run Golden Valley’s head coach was ejected from the game after questioning and criticizing a key foul called on his team. The technical foul on the Cougar coach sent Pitman to the free throw line where they took a two point lead with five minutes in the game. Immediately after taking the lead Skyler Sexton hit a trey that put Pitman up by five and gave the Pride a chance at an upset of their own.
A couple of triple bonuses and a technical foul call on a Pride player deflated Pitman’s momentum, however, resulting in the first consecutive losses for Pitman this season. Golden Valley won 51-39.
Pitman’s second loss of the week eliminates them from the CCC title hunt but with victories over Turlock High on Monday and Buhach on Friday the Pride may still make playoffs. Turlock’s second victory of the week keeps them at the number two spot in the CCC standings with an opportunity to take first place next week with back to back wins against Pitman and Golden Valley.