Buhach Colony beats Vacaville in boys basketball playoff opener

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 15, 2013 

— Most of Friday night was a blur.

The Buhach Colony and Vacaville boys basketball played at a frantic pace, racing up and down the floor.

However, with the game on the line, the Thunder slammed on the brakes.

Point guard Joe Marquez slowly dribbled the ball up the court. Buhach Colony used five passes to work the ball around against the Bulldogs' zone.

Stephen Hillyer then drained an open 3-pointer.

Hillyer's shot gave the Thunder a six-point lead and some much-needed breathing room. Twelfth-seeded Buhach Colony closed the game with a 14-0 run to defeat No. 21 Vacaville 78-63 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 play-in playoff game at the Thunder Dome.

"This was really important for a lot of us, the coaches, too," said Hillyer, who made four 3-pointers to finish with 16 points.

The win marked the first postseason victory in school history.

The Thunder (19-9) were 0-3 in the playoffs coming into Friday night, including first-round losses the last two years.

The win meant a lot to Hillyer and the other nine seniors on the team. Especially after they fell short of winning the program's first conference championship.

"We didn't win league and that was a big letdown," said fellow senior Roger Klauser, who also finished with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"Now we want to go deep in the playoffs. We don't want to quit playing."

Buhach Colony, which set a school single-season record with its 19th win, will travel to Elk Grove on Wednesday to face No. 5 Cosumnes Oaks (21-6).

Keeping its season alive wasn't easy for Buhach Colony.

The Thunder torched the Vacaville 2-3 zone in the second quarter for 28 points to take a 44-35 lead into halftime.

Buhach Colony did it with teamwork and patience. Marquez effectively distributed the ball, zipping passes to Klauser and Kaden Verdin (12 points) in the paint for easy baskets.

When the Bulldogs squeezed their zone to protect the paint, the Thunder connected from long range. Buhach Colony went on a 22-4 run during the second quarter.

"We moved the ball well and we worked inside-out," Buhach Colony coach John Bliss said. "Joe made some big shots and made the pass to some guys cutting."

Vacaville didn't go away, battling back in the second half.

Buhach Colony came out in a zone for one of the few times all season, but it didn't last long after the Bulldogs connected on two quick 3-pointers.

Raul Magana led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Dylan Lantin added 12 points.

Vacaville pulled even with Buhach Colony twice in the second half, but could never get out in front.

Klauser came up big for the Thunder in the second half with nine points and nine rebounds, which help Buhach Colony get some big stops during the 14-0 run to close out the game.

"I'm very proud of our guys," Bliss said. "This was a big accomplishment for our program and these kids.

"They left it all out there, especially at the end. They played their hearts out."

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