Daniel Motz and his Atwater High teammates came out scorching the nets in the first quarter against Turlock.
Motz hit three 3-pointers as the Falcons jumped out to a seven-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Then they went cold.
Atwater made just one of its next 15 shots from beyond the arc as the Bulldogs took control and eventually held on to a 61-56 win on Wednesday night at Atwater High.
We knew it was senior night for (Atwater). We told our guys theyre a playoff team, theyre going to come ready to play, Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot said. We kind of had to weather the storm there.
The frigid shooting was only part of the Falcons problems. The bigger issue was that Atwaters Ben Peterson (17 points and 12 rebounds per game) was on the bench with foul trouble for most of the first three quarters.
Peterson and Falcons coach Tony Hillyer were unaware that Peterson picked up two early fouls in the first quarter. So everyone was surprised when Peterson was whistled for a third foul just 5 minutes and 28 seconds into the game.
There was confusion, said Hillyer, whose team dropped to 5-4 in the Central California Conference and 16-10 overall. I thought the first foul was on (Josh) Heller because Ben wasnt even around the play. I thought he only picked up his second. When I heard he had three, it was like, What? We had to play without him.
The Falcons actually trailed 11-9 when Peterson picked up his third foul. Atwater responded with a 13-2 run to take a 22-13 lead with 5:12 left in the first half.
However, thats when the shots were falling. Atwater drained two 3-pointers during the run.
With Peterson (two points) on the bench, Turlock attacked the paint and controlled the boards as it pulled even at 29-all by halftime.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 16-10) then ran off 10 straight points to start the third quarter with Peterson picking up his fourth foul mindway through the third quarter.
We wanted to take it to (Peterson) without making it our focal point, Cornfoot said. It was more if you have the opportunity. With him picking up three fouls, we figured he wouldnt play as aggressive in the second half so we went to our high-low post game and were able to get some easy baskets.
Turlock forward Kenny Fraser caught fire, scoring 13 of his game-high 26 points in the third quarter to help the Bulldogs open up a 49-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Cornfoot also made a key defensive switch after the first quarter. After watching Motz make shots over his smaller guards, he switched the taller and more athletic Dashawn Holcombe on Motz.
Holcombe gave Motz fits and blocked two or three shots from long range.
Motz didnt play in our first game against Atwater, Cornfoot said. I didnt know how good of a shooter he was. Dashawn is one of the best defenders in the conference. Hes one of those guys, that if you give him a challenge, he gets that look in his eye. He had that look. He was ready to step up and take that challenge.
Atwater made a late run as Motz (17 points) hit a couple 3-pointers to help the Falcons cut a 15-point lead to just 59-56 with 6 seconds left. But Holcombe iced the game with a pair of free throws.
We had to change our style and go to our small-man offense without Ben, Hillyer said. He cut a lot to the basket and tried to spread them out. We did pretty good for a while, but Doug made some quick adjustments.
Golden Valley 75, Pitman 26
Dusty Nunes celebrated senior night with six 3s and 20 points to lead the Cougars in a rout of Pitman.
Buhach Colony 65, Merced 55
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Le Grand 59, Waterford 58
WATERFORD -- Le Grand hit 12 3s and Jordan Curtis drained the game-winning free throw with 36 seconds left in a win over Waterford.