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6:10 to Turlock

TURLOCK -- John Bliss watched 6 minutes and 10 seconds of basketball he'd quickly like to erase from his mind.

In that time, the Merced coach witnessed his team turn the ball over eight times, miss six shots from the field and miss a pair of free throws.

Meanwhile, Turlock ran off 17 straight points to take control of the game and possibly the Central California Conference with an emphatic 52-30 victory over the defending CCC champions Thursday night at Turlock High.

"We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of that third quarter," said Merced coach John Bliss, whose team dropped to 8-2 and 16-8.

"We didn't execute."

The win has Turlock (9-1, 21-4) eyeing its first CCC championship since 1982.

"Our girls are very aware," said coach Salinda Mendoza-Mabie, who beat Merced for the first time in five years coaching at Turlock. "One of our younger player's mother was on that team."

Despite missing what seemed like every shot it threw up in the first half, Merced still only trailed 26-21 at the half.

Merced made just 3 of 22 3-point attempts in the game.

However, the game quickly unraveled in the third quarter.

Five different Turlock players scored during the run that extended Turlock's lead to 43-21 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.

Samantha Bertoman led Turlock with 14 points.

Merced's soap opera of a season continued last week when senior Alyssa Wright was dismissed from the team after the loss to Pitman for what Bliss called "conduct detrimental to the team."

Merced had four of its top players either on the bench in street clothes or in the stands for various reasons.

"We're not going to make excuses," Bliss said. "I still believe, if we would have executed better on offense, we still could have won this game.

"I've been coaching long enough to know it's going to affect team chemistry when you make changes midseason. You make decisions you have to live with."

After winning 19 straight CCC games dating back to last year, Merced has now lost two of its last three.

Bliss and his girls will now need help to win a second straight title with just two games remaining.

"You never know, anything can happen, but it's not likely," Bliss said. "But I didn't think last week (losing to Pitman) was going to happen."

Central California Conference



at Turlock

Merced 7 14 7 3 -- 31

Turlock 13 13 20 6 -- 52

MERCED -- Casey Kelly 2, Erika Marmolejo 8, Rachel Turner 4, Mercedes Lee 10, Marquitta Barron 2, Karine Meyer 5. Totals 11 5-18 31.

TURLOCK -- Kayla Schumann 2, Christian Richardson 5, Camille Roberts 5, Regina Calloway 9, Rachel Finnegan 9, Samantha Bertoman 14, Tabitha Lee 6, Natalie Dykzeul 2. Totals 20 9-18 52.

3-pointers: Merced 2 (Marmolejo 2); Turlock 1 (Roberts 1); Team Fouls: Merced 15, Turlock 14;

Records: Merced 8-2 CCC, 16-8 overall; Turlock 9-1, 21-4.

JV -- Merced 42-29.

Frosh -- Turlock won.