For the second consecutive game, Merced High sophomore Sierra Smith got hot in the second half to lead the Bears to a 31-25 win over El Capitan in the Stable Center on Thursday night.
Smith scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the second half to help bale out an offense that struggled in the first two quarter. This is one game after Smith scored 15 points in the second half to help the Bears knock off Pitman 37-35 on Tuesday night.
The Bears (15-2, 3-0 Central California Conference) survive a first half that saw them make just 4-of-32 shots from the floor. The game was remarkably tied 2-2 after the first quarter and the Bears took a 9-7 lead at the half.
Smith’s second half looked in question after rolling her ankle in the final seconds of the second quarter. Merced was already playing without leading scorer Amaya Ervin, who was in street clothes on the sideline.
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The Gauchos (9-10, 0-4 CCC) started the third quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 15-9 lead.
However, Smith came off the bench in the second half and quickly drained a 3-pointer to cut the Gauchos’ lead to 15-12. Smith scored eight points in the third quarter to help Merced regain the lead at 21-18 at the end of the quarter.
The Bears never trailed the rest of the way.
It was the second tough loss this week for El Capitan after losing 37-34 to Golden Valley on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos hurt themselves at the free-throw line, going 7-for-24 in the game. El Capitan were 2-for-12 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone.
Daisy Arroyo led El Capitan with seven points.
Turlock 60, Golden Valley 34 in Merced – The Bulldogs improved to 12-4 overall and 3-0 in the CCC with a win on the road. Delia Moore paced the Cougars (6-11, 2-2) with 20 points.
Pitman 59, Buhach Colony 26 in Turlock – The Pride jumped out to a 17-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back to improve to 3-1 in the CCC. The Thunder fall to 7-10 overall and 0-3 in the CCC.
Livingston 41, Pacheco 27 in Livingston – Annie Winton scored 19 points as the Wolves improved to 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Livingston 7, Pacheco 0 in Los Banos – Aliyah Albores finished with a hat trick and Hannah Arreola added two goals as the Wolves improved to 2-0 in the WAC.
Pacheco 1, Livingston 1 in Los Banos – Gio Valtiera scored on a Rodolfo Rivera assist as the Panthers (6-0-3 overall, 1-0-1 WAC) and Wolves (8-1-2 overall) finished in a draw.