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Back-to-back for Merced

There would be no let down this time.

With the opportunity to secure the outright Central California Conference title, the Merced boys basketball team bucked its trend of allowing teams back into the ballgame.

Merced sprinted to a 17-5 lead five minutes into the game and never eased off the gas in a convincing 89-69 victory over Turlock.

"Coach told us before the game that we needed to get on them early," senior guard Jarrett Sparks said. "We let Turlock hang around the first time. So this time we got up on them and didn't let up.

Despite Merced's 12th straight victory and second straight CCC title, there were no signs of celebration after the game.

"We're happy to get the win, but it's just the first goal," Sparks said "The next one's to go 12-0 in league."

Sparks (26 points, six rebounds, three blocks) and backcourt mate Allen Huddleston (30 points, five rebounds, four steals) once again did Merced's heavy lifting, but its offensive dominance was the result of getting the whole team involved.

Ten Merced players worked their way onto the scoresheet, with six chipping in at least six points.

"We've won a lot of game relying on Jarrett and Allen to do the scoring, but I think we're most effective when everyone's involved," Merced coach Marcus Knott said. "It showed tonight with us scoring 89 points."

As pleased ad Knott was with his team's offensive prowess, he's still looking for a more complete effort.

The number that stuck with Knott was the 69 points Merced surrendered.

"If you had told me we were going to give up 69 points to Turlock, I'd have been worried," Knott said. "Our offense definitely carried us tonight.

"We didn't play very good defense."

In some ways that makes the 20-point victory all the more impressive.

Every time Turlock threatened with a big run, Merced countered.

"They were focused on (Sparks and I), so some of the other guys stepped up and knocked down shots," Huddleston said. "Then when they couldn't just focus on us, everyone got going."

Central California Conference



at Merced

Turlock 15 16 19 19 -- 69

Merced 27 18 22 22 -- 89

TURLOCK -- Matt Walker 1, Efrem Harris 18, Travis Souza 20, Eric Wetzel 4, Jason Moore 10, Gavin Souza 5, Jadon Williamson 11. Totals 23 18-28 69.

MERCED -- Bobby Salinas 7, Ronnie Dunham 6, Bernard Bolden 1, Kenny Cooper 8, Allen Huddleston 30, Jarrett Sparks 26, Kameron Huddleston 2, Maxwell Masood 2, Patrick Franey 6, Matt Akers 2. Totals 35 13-20 89.

3-pointers: Turlock 5 (T. Souza 2, Jason Moore 2, G. Souza), Merced 6 (Sparks 2, Huddleston 2, Dunham, Salinas); Total Fouls: Turlock 18, Merced 17; Fouled out: None; Technicals: T. Souza (T).

Records: Turlock 6-4 CCC, 17-8; Merced 10-0 CCC, 18-7.

JV -- Merced 57-26.