Merced High honored some of its past coaches on Monday night as the Bears hosted their first basketball game in the new gymnasium.
Former boys basketball coaches Ed Sowers, Vince Clemons and Marcus Knott were on hand as well as family members representing former coach Sam Diele.
They were joined at midcourt during the ceremony by former girls basketball coaches Brad Reed, Rob Pierce and John Bliss’ son Jared Bliss. Former girls volleyball coaches Nancy Seifert, Lori Mollart, Amy Pellissier and Brooke Wilson were also introduced.
“When I walked in the first person I saw was coach Clemons,” said Merced’s current coach Hector Nava. “When I saw coach Clemons, I knew it was going to be a special night.”
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The Bears went on to defeat Le Grand 69-50 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Foundation Game.
The basketball was sloppy, but that is to be expected this early in the season. The game doesn’t count toward either team’s record. The money raised by the foundation games all across the section goes toward the scholarships handed out by the Sac-Joaquin Section each year.
Nava used the game to play all his players and experiment with different rotations and defenses.
“I played everybody and we worked on every defense I could think of,” Nava said. “We worked on every rotation I have ever thought about using. This is the time to work on those things. As you can see, some of my thoughts weren’t good.”
The Bears did open up a 39-24 lead at the half as Jeremy Redwine scored 11 of his team-high 14 points in the first two quarters.
However, Le Grand held Merced to just seven points in the third quarter as the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 46-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Angel Calvillo led Le Grand with a game-high 18 points and Elijah Hernandez added 16 points.
Merced put the game away with 23 points in the fourth quarter. The Bears scored 11 of their points in the final quarter from the free-throw line. Elijah Gilliam and Xavier Stewart each finished with nine points for Merced.
The games start to count on Tuesday night when Merced hosts Pleasant Grove from Elk Grove.
Atwater 60, Livingston 49 at Atwater – The Falcons were also hosting their first game in their new gym as Saul Avitia scored 20 points to lead Atwater past the Wolves in a foundation game. Omar Berrio added 13 points and Fernando Jeronimo scored 11.
El Capitan 71, Enochs 51 in Modesto – Angel Serena scored 16 points as the Gauchos defeated the Eagles. Jerimiah Duda scored 13 points and TJ Wills 11 for El Capitan.
Merced 42, Le Grand 22 in Merced – Sierra Smith scored 12 points with the help of a pair of 3-pointers to lead the Bears. Amaya Ervin added eight points for Merced.