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Prep Roundup: Merced girls face huge test

Alyssa Wright had one hand on her sore tail bone and had a noticeable limp as she made her way back into the gym after Friday night's game against San Jose Mission.

"I just want to sit down," Wright told a friend.

The Merced senior looked like she had just played her fourth game in five nights.

Wright and her teammates won't have long to rest.

Merced advanced to the championship game of the 25th annual Merced Holiday Invitational with a 57-38 win on Friday night.

Merced will face Monte Vista tonight at 5 p.m.

Both teams have cruised through their two tournament games.

Monte Vista defeated Turlock 56-34 in the other semifinal matchup.

"We know they're a good team," said Merced coach John Bliss, whose team improved to 6-2.

"(Niveen Rasheed) is unreal. She's as good as any player we've ever guarded.

"They're deep and they played five different defenses in the first half against Turlock.

"It's going to be a big cerebral game for us. We're going to have to play with a high basketball IQ."

Merced will also need the same type of effort it displayed against Mission.

From the opening whistle, Merced was all over the floor with its non-stop pressure defense.

It was a much different performance than Merced showed in a 57-20 win over Modesto Johansen on Thursday night.

"I'm so proud of the girls for how hard they played," Bliss said. "I was very impressed with their effort.

Wright led the way for Merced with 21 points. Karine Meyer came on strong with 13 of her 17 points in the second half.

"We knew we had to tighten it up," Wright said. "We played hard and we worked together."

Merced outscored Mission in every quarter.

Wright scored 14 points in the first half to help build a 30-20 lead at intermission.

Mission never cut the lead under 10 the rest of the way.

Tonight ends a five-game week for Merced.

"I knew this part of the schedule would be like this," Bliss said.

"This is the kind of stuff that prepares you for the playoffs mentally.

"That's why I called teams like Monte Vista and Mission. I wanted some good teams in the tournament.

"We're going to need as big an effort -- if not bigger -- against Monte Vista."

GOLDEN VALLEY 50

HOOVER 23

FRESNO -- Matt Thissen couldn't have asked for a better start to Friday's game.

The Golden Valley girls basketball coach watched as Porsha Grayson opened the quarterfinal showdown at the Hoover Holiday Classic with 3s on her first two touches.

Then...

"We went cold," Thissen said. "I'm not sure why. If I knew that I'd be a great coach."

The cold spell wouldn't last long, as Golden Valley turned up the defensive pressure in a 50-23 victory over host Hoover.

Grayson regained her touch from the perimeter to lead all scorers with 15 points.

The win vaults Golden Valley (4-3) into today's semifinal against Oakhurst Yosemite.

LIVINGSTON 48

ARGONAUT 28

TURLOCK -- Nina Garcia poured in 17 points to lead Livingston into the championship game of the Turlock Christian Tournament.

Livingston (7-0) will play the winner of Escalon-Bradshaw for the trophy today.

KING CITY 43

LE GRAND 42

SALINAS -- Matty Barrington nailed a 15-foot jumper as time expired to keep Le Grand sliding.

Miranda Flores' 16 points paced Le Grand, which has lost three straight games.

BOYS BASKETBALL

BEAR RIVER 63

GOLDEN VALLEY 59

GRASS VALLEY -- Lia Prophete scored 19, but Golden Valley (3-4) was outscored 16-9 in the final quarter.

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