The Turlock girls basketball team's gameplan appeared sound. The Merced girls just didn't cooperate.
Five different players hit 3-pointers as Merced sank nine treys in a 59-53 win in a battle of the two remaining undefeated Central California Conference teams.
"They got really hot," said Turlock coach Salinda Mendoza-Mabie, whose team dropped to 3-1 in the CCC.
"I don't think they've shot that well from outside in a long time. We wanted to force them to hurt us from outside and that's what they did."
Alyssa Wright led the long range barrage with three 3-pointers for nine of her 12 points.
Mercedes Lee and Erika Marmolejo -- who made her first appearance this season -- both hit a pair of treys.
"We wanted to protect against the penetration and take away their inside game," Mendoza-Mabie said.
"We had our players sag and help out. There's not a lot you can do when they get hot like that."
Merced (4-0 CCC, 13-6 overall) took control of the game with a 14-4 run to start the second quarter.
Lee sparked the run with a pair of 3-pointers to start the quarter.
"I don't know what happened," Lee said. "Once I got hot, my teammates followed."
"In the first half, we shot the ball really well," Merced coach John Bliss said. "Our girls bought into the concept that our defense fuels our offense.
"As long as they keep buying into that concept, we'll be fine."
Merced focused its defense on Turlock's two-headed monster of Samantha Bertomen and Rachel Finnegan.
Finnegan carried Turlock in the second quarter with 11 of her 15 points.
Bertomen was held to just one point in the first half, but came back to score 16 in the final two quarters.
"A lot of our attention was on those two," Bliss said. "They're both great players and you're not going to shut them down the whole game."
Merced built the lead as high as 21 points in the third quarter before Turlock rallied late.
Karine Meyer led Merced with 14 points. Casey Kelly (nine points and six steals), Lee (eight points and five assists) and Marquitta Barron (seven rebounds) all came up with big games.
"There was a lot of contributions," Bliss said. "We had great hustle from Casey, Mercedes and Marquitta.
"We've grown up a lot as a team."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central California Conference
At Merced High
Turlock 5 15 16 17 -- 53
Merced 7 21 25 6 -- 59
TURLOCK -- Kayla Schumann 5, Christian Richardson 2, Camille Roberts 2, Candace Sakuda 4, Regina Calloway 6, Rachel Finnegan 15, Samantha Bertomen 17, Natalie Dykzehl 2. Totals: 21 4-9 53.
MERCED -- Casey Kelly 9, Nicole Trujillo 3, Alyssa Wright 12, Mercedes Lee 8, Dalemesha Hill 5, Marquitta Barron 2, Karine Meyer 14, Erika Marmolejo 6. Totals: 19 12-21 59.
3-pointers: Turlock 5 (Bertomen 3, Finnegan 1, Schumann 1), Merced 9 (Wright 3, Lee 2, Marmolejo 2, Trujillo 1, Kelly 1); Team Fouls: Turlock 15, Merced 8. Fouled Out -- None.
Records: Turlock 3-1 CCC, 16-4; Merced 4-0, 13-6.
JV -- Merced won 56-30.
Frosh -- Merced won 38-36.