Silva boosts Buhach girls over Merced

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 17, 2013 

— Jessica Silva once again delivered the big shot when her team needed it.

The Buhach Colony senior sank a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to lift the Thunder to a thrilling 37-34 win over Merced on Thursday night at Clemons Court.

It’s the second time in four Central California Conference games Silva has come through with a late shot.

“It felt amazing,” said Silva, who scored a game-high 15 points. “It was the only 3-pointer I hit all game. It felt good to hit the game-winner.

“Brandy Coward made a great steal and she looked for me right away.”

It was a frustrating night up until the final seconds for Silva as Merced made her the focal point of its defense from the opening tip. Bears guard Tandra Henley was a pest all night as she shadowed Silva all over the court in Merced’s box-and-one defense.

“We’ve seen that before, but by far that was the best anyone has done it this year,” Buhach Colony coach Shane Gentry said. “Jessica always finds a way and it was fitting she hit the game-winning shot even though it wasn’t a great scoring night.”

The Thunder (4-0 CCC, 16-5 overall) almost ran Merced out of its own gym early with a 10-0 start. Silva scored six early points, but then Henley shut her down and the Bears slowly climbed back in the game.

Baskets were hard to come by for both teams. The Bears (2-2, 13-7) cut the lead to 22-15 at the half and trailed by four points heading into the fourth quarter. Merced finally pulled even at 30-all after Henley sank a pair of free throws with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game.

Mohagany Stitt scored to give the Bears their first and only lead of the game with 2:53 remaining.

Silva tied the game with a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left. Coward then came up with a steal, dribbled down court and found Silva wide open for the 3-pointer.

Merced’s Tekerra Borden and Lexi Thompson both launched threes in the final seconds, but couldn’t connect as the Thunder celebrated the win.

“A couple key mistakes at the end and one clutch shot by them,” Merced coach Brad Reed said.

Allison Wisdom and Coward scored eight points each.

“Ultimately if this is going to be the formula to beat us, we have to find other ways to score,” Gentry said. “But this was a great win. I’m happy for the girls.”

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