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Cause for concern

ATWATER -- The score was predictable.

Merced easily outraced Buhach Colony 84-53 to win its ninth straight game Wednesday night at the Thunder Dome.

It was how his team won that should give Merced coach Marcus Knott cause for concern.

Knott's boys seemed to sleepwalk their way to a 33-26 lead at the end of the first half.

Merced (7-0 Central California Conference, 15-7 overall) played like a team that wasn't concerned about losing.

"It's a little frustrating," Knott said. "Playing in this environment can be tough.

"There wasn't a whole lot of buzz in the gym. It was quiet and we struggled to get our intensity going.

"We talked at halftime about playing with our own intensity and creating our own emotion.

"We don't have to play like it's a super emotional game, but we can be more aggressive."

Merced did pick up the pace in the second half and quickly put the game out of reach with a 23-7 run to start the third quarter.

After making just 1 of 8 shots in the first half, Allen Huddleston caught fire and scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter.

Center Kenny Cooper scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter and finished with 11 rebounds.

"The first three minutes of the third quarter, they made their run," said Buhach Colony coach Steve Abrams whose team dropped to 1-7 and 7-16. "They had 23 offensive rebounds. That's 23 second chances. That was the difference in the game."

Braden Williamson led BC with 15 points and Hodari Peterson came off the bench to score 12.

Jarrett Sparks basically carried Merced through the first half with 13 of his 17 points.

The senior guard also finished with six rebounds, four steals and four assists.

"I think we all know when we're not playing hard," Sparks said. "Sometimes some players are and some aren't and it makes the team look like we aren't.

"We know we can't play like that. Especially when we get to the playoffs."

Merced travels to Pitman on Friday for a key CCC matchup.


At Buhach Colony

Merced 18 15 21 20 -- 84

Buhach 13 13 14 13 -- 53

MERCED -- Ronnie Dunham 8, Bernard Bolden 9, Allen Huddleston 18, Kenny Cooper 17, Jarrett Sparks 17, Patrick Franey 5, Eddie Beavers 8. Totals 33 9-17 84.

BUHACH COLONY --Brandon Wilkins 2, Preston Porter 1, Hodari Peterson 12, Jordan Hoffman 4, Joey Lopez 4, Kevin Rosaz 2, Braden Williamson 15, Justin Lewison 5, Shane Munden 6. Totals 19 10-16 53.

3-pointers: Merced 7 (Dunham 2, Sparks 2, Huddleston 2, Bolden 1), Buhach Colony 3 (Williamson 1, Lewison 1, Lopez 1); Team Fouls: Merced 18, BC 15; Fouled Out -- None.

Records: Merced 7-0 CCC, 15-7 overall; Buhach Colony 1-7, 7-16.

JV -- Merced won.

Freshmen -- Buhach Colony won.