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Turlock drops close contest to Merced
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Turlock senior Addy Lawrence drives past opponent Mylah Steverson of Merced in Wednesday’s nonleague contest (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

Turlock High’s girls basketball team twice erased big deficits in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short in a 36-32 loss to Merced on Wednesday night at Bulldog Arena.

The Bulldogs (5-7) will host Sonora on Jan. 4 before entertaining Modesto on Jan. 10 in the Central California Athletic League opener for both schools.

Turlock trailed by six points in the fourth quarter, but battled back and tied the game 25-25. Merced’s Linda Yanez hit a 3-pointer to grab the lead once again for Merced, then Yanez stole the inbounds pass and soared in for a layup that stretched the lead to five with 58 seconds remaining.

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Turlock's Olivia Walker pushes past Merced's Leilani De La Cruz to take a shot (SAMANTHA SCHMIDT/The Journal).

“To be down by five again in, like, a short 10 seconds, that was hard,” said THS coach Erica Hernandez.

But Turlock wouldn’t quit, clawing to within one point before the Bears (9-5) pulled away once again in the final seconds.

“I really wasn’t expecting to get it that close again. Like I was saying, to tie it up, then be down by five in 10 seconds, then to come back and close it to one, the effort there was just amazing.”

From the Bears’ standpoint, they were able to withstand several Turlock runs.

“We didn’t panic,” said MHS coach Willie Steverson. “Turlock’s got a good group, too. But we just kept telling the girls to fix the small mistakes and stay in the fight.”

Emilie Snyder led the Bulldogs with 12 points, all coming from three-point range. Yanez paced Merced with 12 points.