The road hasn’t been kind to the Golden Valley High boys basketball team in conference play. The Cougars came into Friday night’s game at Atwater 2-0 at home and 0-2 on the road with losses at Buhach Colony at Turlock.
Golden Valley finally cracked the code on the road, but there was some nervous moments before the Cougars escaped Falcon Arena with a 75-69 win.
Devon Martinez led the way with 22 points and Etrell Bowers turned in a strong all-around game with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals as the Cougars improved to 13-6 overall and 3-2 in the Central California Conference.
“I wish I had an answer for it’s hard to win on the road,” said Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter. “Then I’d try to fix it. For us, looking at the stats a lot of it has been shooting, scoring.”
The Cougars made just 3-of-16 shots from beyond the three-point line in a 68-65 loss to Buhach Colony on January 3.
On Wednesday against Turlock, GV went 0-for-15 from beyond the arc and shot just 30 percent from the field in a 46-42 loss.
Against Atwater, Golden Valley made 25-of-52 shots from the floor (48 percent). The Cougars also knocked down 10 3-pointers, including five from Martinez.
“We knew Cyrus (Allen) and Bowers were going to get theirs,” said Atwater coach Kanoa Smith, whose team dropped to 9-10 overall and 0-4 in the CCC. “We were hoping their guards would stay cold and go from there.”
Smith knew coming in Golden Valley was a tough matchup for his guard-heavy team.
“They have two athletic bigs (Allen and Bowers) and that’s different than everyone else,” Smith said. “The only one like them is (Merced’s Jeremy) Redwine.”
The Falcons came out firing, making 6 of 10 3-pointers in the first quarter to build an early 20-11 lead after the first quarter. Saul Avitia hit four 3-pointers in the opening quarter, including a buzzer beater just past half court at the end of the first quarter.
Avitia finished with a game-high 27 points with the help of six 3-pointers. Ashton Jantz added 14 points and Dawson DeSousa chipped in with 13 points.
“After the first quarter we went to straight deny,” Hunter said. “That’s play your man one-on-one every where and don’t help. We still didn’t execute that as well as I would have liked.”
The Falcons built the lead to 25-11 early in the second quarter before the Cougars closed out the second quarter with a 23-10 run. Bowers and Martinez combined for 20 of the points.
Bowers became the facilitator in the third quarter, assisting on five consecutive Golden Valley baskets as the Cougars outscored Atwater 22-16 in the quarter to take a 56-51 lead into the fourth.
Golden Valley ran the offense through Bowers at the high post and he did a good job of either feeding the ball down low to Allen (14 points and 11 rebounds) or finding an open teammate outside.
Bowers found Bryan Livesay (11 points) open for two wide-open 3-pointers late in the third quarter.
“Etrell made a couple of great passes when he probably could have taken a shot,” Hunter said. “He gave up the shot for a great shot. Livesay hit a couple big threes.”
Golden Valley had trouble closing out the Falcons, turning the ball over six times in the fourth quarter. However, the Falcons missed a couple wide open layups in transition that could have made the game closer down the stretch. Atwater made just 6-of-18 shots in the fourth quarter.
“There were a couple possessions where I wasn’t sure what we were doing,” Hunter said. “We want to have ball movement and take 20 to 25 seconds off the clock and we had two turnovers that came from dribbling and not passing. Our execution has just been poor. We got a little lucky tonight and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Merced 72, Turlock 52 in Merced – The Bears (12-7 overall, 2-2 CCC) picked up a much needed win after two losses earlier this week. Dhameer Warren led the way for Merced with 19 points. Jeremy Redwine added 16 points and Adam Cardoso made five 3-pointers for all of his 15 points for the Bears.
El Capitan 67, Buhach Colony 47 in Merced – Marcus McCutchen scored 18 points as the Gauchos (16-5, 4-1 CCC) moved all alone atop the CCC. Mark Sellers added 15 points and Jerimiah Duda scored 13 for El Capitan.
Livingston 51, Pacheco 43 in Los Banos – Kevin Alvarez scored 19 points and Sebastian Pulido added 12 points as the Wolves improved to 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Turlock 47, Merced 36 in Turlock – Hope Salsig led the Bulldogs (4-0 CCC) with 15 points as Turlock won the battle of CCC unbeatens. Amaya Ervin led the Bears (15-3, 3-1 CCC) with 16 points.
El Capitan 40, Buhach Colony 33 in Atwater – Nylah Hassan finished with 10 points, eight assists and six steals to help the Gauchos win their first CCC game. El Capitan improved to 10-10 overall and 1-4 in the CCC.
Atwater 66, Golden Valley 38 in Merced – Kesley Valencia poured in 21 points, Amoni Clairborne scored 13 and Marisa Martinez added 12 points as the Falcons routed Golden Valley to improve to 10-9 overall and 2-2 in the CCC.
Delia Moore led the Cougars with 23 points.
Turlock 2, Golden Valley 0 in Turlock – Samuel Goana scored both Bulldogs’ goals as Turlock improve to 2-0-1 in the CCC. Isaac Delgado recorded eight saves for Golden Valley (4-6-4 overall, 0-3-1 CCC).
Mendota 5, Dos Palos 2 in Dos Palos – Carlos Escalante scored both Broncos’ goals in the second half as Dos Palos dropped to 6-3-2 overall and 0-2 in the West Sierra League.
College Men’s Basketball
UC Merced 73, La Sierra 71 in Riverside – Sophomore Ryan Haywood finished with 12 points, including the game-winning layup at the buzzer as the Bobcats improved to 8-9 overall and 4-1 in the California Pacific Conference.
Andrew Williams led UC Merced with 15 points and Matt Laflin added 14 points.
Merced College 78, Taft 40 in Taft – Trinity Washington just missed a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and nine steals. She also had six assists for Merced College (18-3 overall, 4-0 Central Valley Conference).
Champelle Kelly added 10 points and 12 rebounds for MC.
UC Merced 92, La Sierra 72 in Riverside – Mia Belvin paced the Bobcats (12-7 overall, 4-1 Cal Pac) with 23 points. Aubrey Hayes also scored a career high 21 points for UC Merced.