Jeremy Redwine started it with a 3-pointer from the top of the key less than a minute into the game. Adam Cardoso and Anthony Robinson followed with two more shots from long distance less than a minute apart.
Xavier Stewart followed with two baskets in the paint and the Merced High boys basketball was off and running on their way to a 64-49 win over Buhach Colony on Friday night at Vince Clemons Court.
The Bears (13-9 overall, 3-4 Central California Conference) jumped on the Thunder early with 22 points in the first quarter to open up a 16-point lead.
Merced built the lead to 30-7 with 5 minutes left in the first half.
“This was a big game for us starting the second half of league,” said Bears coach Hector Nava. “We had a lot of close games in the first half. We’ve been working hard on closing games. Fortunately this game we didn’t have to work on our last-second situations.”
The bye came at a good time for Merced after a pair of gut-wrenching losses last week. There was the half-court buzzer beater against Atwater and then blowing a four-point lead in the final 20 seconds against Golden Valley.
The two losses left Merced at 2-4 after the first round of CCC games. It leaves the Bears little margin of error in the second half if they want to reach the postseason.
“I told the players before the game it they want to know what the playoffs are like this game will be like a playoff game,” Nava said. “That’s the way we have to look at it. That’s the way I’m going to coach it. We have five games left. Every game we have to take one at a time and every game we have to have a playoff mind-set.”
Hot shooting helps and Merced came out knocking down shots in the first quarter. Cardoso (12 points) made three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Bears drained five of six shots from beyond the arc. Merced made 8 of 16 shots from the floor in the opening quarter.
“They played really well,” said Buhach Colony coach Steve Abrams, whose team dropped to 10-13 overall and 2-6 in the CCC. “I give them all the credit. It wasn’t anything we didn’t do. It was all them.”
Nava liked the quick tempo Merced established early.
“Watching film, we felt if we can push the ball in transition we’ll be able to get some early shots off,” Nava said. “I thought Xavier did a good job of pushing the ball.”
Jeremy Redwine led the Bears with 23 points and nine rebounds. Desmond Thompson gave the Bears a lift on defense off the bench and added eight points.
Irik Dobbins paced the Thunder with 18 points. James Abrams finished with 10 points for BC.
El Capitan 67, Atwater 33 in Atwater – The Gauchos routed the Falcons to improve to 18-5 overall and 7-1 in the CCC. Marcus McCutchen led El Capitan with 15 points. Angel Serena finished with 14 points and Dillon Greenwood chipped in with 13 points.
Atwater 1, El Capitan 1 in Atwater – Eduardo Delgadillo scored on a pass from Armando Ramriez for the Falcons’ lone goal. Parsa Hormozdbadi scored for El Capitan (7-3-4 overall, 2-2-4 CCC). Leo Diaz stopped two shots in goal for Atwater (8-4-7, 3-0-5 CCC).
Le Grand 2, Delhi 2 in Delhi – Andres Lua scored one of the Bulldogs’ two goals for his 25th goal of the season. Le Grand is7-1-2 overall and 6-0-2 in the Southern League.
Dos Palso 1, Tranquillity 0 in Dos Palos – 1-0. Victor Rivas scored a goal in overtime to lead the Broncos (2-3-1 West Sierra League) to a second straight victory.
Venture Academy 6, Stone Ridge Christian 1 in Merced – Jordan Hooker scored the Knights’ only goal on a pass from Jaden Rogers. Stone Ridge Christian dropped to 3-3 in the Central California Athletic Alliance.
Stone Ridge Christian 5, Delta Charter 1 in Tracy – Melanie Jimenez scored four goals and Sydney Shaw recorded three assists to lead the Knights past the Dragons.