ATWATER — The Buhach Colony bench could barely hold still as the final 30 seconds ticked off the clock on Thursday night.
Like kids about to open their first present on Christmas morning, the Thunder girls basketball players squirmed with euphoric anticipation.
The group rushed The Nest's court as the final horn sounded, celebrating a 63-34 victory over rival Atwater and the outright Central California Conference title that went with it.
"I can't even explain what a totally different feeling it is to not have to share the title," senior guard Jessica Silva said. "It means a lot to have it all to ourselves.
"We knew it was their senior night. We knew they were going to have a big crowd and they were going to be pumped up, so we had to come out and get after them. We were able to do that, and we didn't let up."
BC's 42-40 loss to Merced on Tuesday added some intrigue to the final day of the regular season.
A Thunder loss coupled with a Merced win would mean a co-championship for the second straight season. Buhach made sure that was not going to happen.
The Thunder (21-6, 9-1 CCC) took all of the drama out of the evening by jumping on the Falcons (9-17, 5-5 CCC) early and never letting them back up.
The BC defense set the tone, forcing eight Atwater turnovers in the first quarter and building a 7-0 lead before the Falcons had attempted a shot. Emane Dobbins scored six of her eight points in the first quarter, helping BC push its lead to 13-4.
"The kids were obviously disappointed with the Merced loss, but they also knew that we still controlled our own destiny and could reach our goal of a title tonight," BC head coach Shane Gentry said. "They came out and imposed their will from the get go, which was important, because Atwater gave us fits the first time.
"I thought we were mentally focused, and for the first time all year we exposed a junk defense that was intended to take Jessica out of the game."
The Thunder got contributions across the board, with all five starters scoring at least six points and eight different players finding their way into the scorebook.
Silva had 12 of her game-high 21 points in the first half as BC took a comfortable 33-15 lead into intermission.
Atwater tried to answer with a good third quarter. Judy Mendoza (nine points) had six big points and the Falcons forced 12 turnovers, but still trailed by 14 entering the fourth quarter.
The Thunder put things away with a 10-0 run to open the fourth.
Allison Wisdom finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
Merced 63, Golden Valley 21
It was only fitting on senior night that seniors Tekerra Borden (21 points) and Mohagany Sitt (20 points) led the Bears (20-7, 8-2 CCC).