MERCED If you're looking for Evan Stillahn in the offseason, there's a good chance you might find him in the weight room.
The Golden Valley junior might be in the company of plenty of his teammates.
If the Cougars hope to make a longer run in the playoffs next year, they're going to have to get stronger.
That was apparent Friday night as Bethel of Vallejo just reached in and took the ball away from Golden Valley players a number of times. That led to easy baskets as the Jaguars ended the Cougars' season with a 75-62 win in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs at Cougar Arena.
"We just weren't strong enough with the ball," Stillahn said. "We were like little kids, especially myself. We made turnovers we shouldn't have made. If we cut those in half it's a different ball game."
The No. 12 seeded Bethel (16-13) will advance to the semifinals next Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento to face top seed Sheldon, which destroyed No. 9 Kennedy 91-26.
The memories of 23 turnovers and a poor night of shooting that saw Golden Valley make just four of 18 shots from beyond the 3-point arc will stay with the Cougars for a long time.
"You can't give the ball away that many times this late in the playoffs and win," said Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter, whose team finished the season at 24-5. "A lot of those turnovers they just took the ball right out of our hands."
Three times in the first half Golden Valley players came down with a rebound on the defensive end only to have a Bethel player strip the ball and put it back up for an easy basket.
The Cougars also struggled with the speed and athleticism of the Jaguars, especially in the second half.
Dusty Nunes hit a 3-pointer to give Golden Valley a 35-32 lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter. But Bethel responded with a 12-2 run to take a 44-37 lead.
Garry Wilson was the catalyst for the Jaguars, scoring 10 of his 14 points during the run.
Bethel's Noah Willington and Edward Moore both scored 19.
"Coming in at halftime we knew we had to turn it up a notch," Bethel coach Dwayne Jones said. "We knew we couldn't let the officiating get to us. One of our top players, Garry Wilson, had three fouls so we decided to switch our defense to a 2-3 zone to give our team some rest and to force them to hit some outside shots."
Marc Williams' 3-pointer extended Bethel's lead to 59-45 with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter.
Golden Valley was able to cut the lead to 68-62 with 1:17 left as Stillahn (12 points) went eight for eight from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
However, Bethel closed out the game going seven of eight from the free throw line to hold off the Cougars' comeback bid.
Christian Carroll finished with 16 points and Nunes added 13.
"It wasn't our night shooting," Stillahn said. "It couldn't have come at a worse time. We all wanted to go to Arco (Sleep Train Arena).
"When you're not excelling in one area, you have to pick up other parts of your game and we couldn't do that."