Allison Wisdom worked hard to improve various parts of her game during the offseason, especially her outside shooting.
When Buhach Colony needed clutch baskets late against Merced, however, the Thunder point guard attacked the basket on back-to-back possessions. Wisdom scored 15 points to help Buhach Colony (2-0) defeat the Bears 42-30 on Friday night at the 19th annual Lady Cougar Classic at Golden Valley to earn a spot in today’s championship game against Enochs at 1 p.m.
“I’ve been a driver since I started playing basketball,” Wisdom said. “I love to do more. I really worked on my shooting from outside. My shot wasn’t there tonight. If there’s a lane I’m going to take it. It’s what I’m used to doing. I’m comfortable doing it.”
With her longtime backcourt mate Jessica Silva graduated, Wisdom will be asked to become more of a scorer this year. It’s an adjustment she’s handled well, scoring 22 points in Thursday’s win over Franklin and 25 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Foundation win over Beyer.
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With the Bears (0-3) creeping within nine points at the end of the third quarter, Wisdom slashed her way into the lane for a pair of baskets to extend the Thunder lead to 36-23.
“Allison has improved all parts of her game,” Buhach Colony coach Shane Gentry said. “She’s put in a lot of work over the summer. Her shooting has gotten better. It wasn’t on tonight. She did a good job of finding a seam in the defense. That was big in the fourth quarter.”
It was somewhat of a statement game for the Thunder, who are aiming for a third straight Central California Conference championship. Merced may be one of the main contenders standing in their way.
“I really liked our intensity level throughout,” Gentry said. “The girls wanted to prove they’re still on top even though in no way are we there yet. They came out with their motors ready to go. We still have many things to fix.”
The Thunder relied on their defense as they held Merced to just three points in the first quarter and kept the Bears scoreless for a stretch of 8 minutes, 27 seconds in the first half as they built a 19-5 lead.
Merced has some work to do before it can be considered a CCC contender. Turnovers continue to plague the Bears as they finished with 30 after turning the ball over 40 times last game against Enochs.
“We had a hard time getting in our offense,” Bears coach Rob Pearce said. “I think our girls are thinking too much instead of playing basketball. They were physical with us and we let them take over the game.”
The Bears still found a way to stay within reach, even when sophomore guard Lexi Thompson sat out the second half with a shoulder injury.
Buhach Colony just had an answer every time Merced threatened. The Thunder just had a hard time delivering the knockout blow.
“The biggest thing is we have to pass the ball better,” Wisdom said. “We try to emphasize ball movement in practice. We do it in practice. We just have to execute in games. This game was kind of a measuring stick for us to see where we are. I’m glad we came out on top but we still have a lot of things to work on.”
Golden Valley 31, Franklin 27
Camille Flores scored 10 points as the Cougars (1-2) picked up their first win of the season. Golden Valley outscored the Yellowjackets 8-2 in the fourth quarter to get the victory.
Mariyah Banks added eight points for the Cougars, who will face Central Valley for the second time in three days today at 11:30 a.m.