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Champions after all

John Bliss was sitting with a group of friends at Applebee's when he received the news.

His Merced girls had won a share of the Central California Conference basketball championship.

Bliss' girls did their part by defeating Golden Valley 71-51 Thursday night in the regular season finale at Merced High.

An hour later, a late-night dinner became a championship celebration when Bliss and company heard Pitman had defeated Turlock 41-34.

Merced and Turlock finished tied atop the CCC at 10-2.

It's the second straight title for Merced.

"It's an amazing feeling," Bliss said. "When you think of all the hurdles we had to get through this year, it's amazing.

"I'm so proud of the way the girls and the way they worked so hard these last two and a half weeks"

Merced (18-8 overall) wasted little time taking control against GV (7-5, 14-13).

Merced jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first six minutes of the game.

Mercedes Lee led the way with her ability to drive and dish.

The senior point guard recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 10 assists and 10 steals.

"She played like a senior," Bliss said. "She was a great floor leader and had great vision.

"She was like a sparkplug tonight."

Lee made it an easy night by setting up Merced's center duo of Karine Meyer (14 points and 11 rebounds) and Dalemesha Hill (13 points) all game.

"We're at our best when we're moving the ball down the court," Meyer said.

Porsha Grayson led GV with 22 points.

The loss may have knocked Golden Valley out of the playoffs. The playoff brackets will be released on Sunday afternoon.

"We'll have to sit and wait," GV coach Matt Thissen said. "All I can think of is that the Merced volleyball team thought they were out of the playoffs.

"They got in and coach (Brooke) Wilson led them to a great playoff run. Maybe we can catch the same kind of break."

Pitman coach Shawne Arnold can expect an e-mail from Bliss this morning.

"I'll definitely send her an e-mail or I'll call her later," Bliss said. "I don't know exactly what words to use."

How about: "Thanks"?

Central California Conference

MERCED 71

GOLDEN VALLEY 51

at Merced

Golden Valley 9 16 9 17 -- 51

Merced 21 17 20 13 -- 71

GOLDEN VALLEY -- Surman Purewall 7, Ebony Washington 2, Porsha Grayson 22, Allison Cruz 4, Teena Brazell 2, Danielle Valadez 4, Carina Simms 4, Becky Morris 6. Totals 18 13-17 51.

MERCED -- Casey Kelly 9, Saadijah Abdul-Hameem 2, Erika Marmolejo 8, Nicole Trujillo 4, Rachel Turner 5, Mercedes Lee 11, Dalemesha Hill 13, Marquitta Barron 5, Karine Meyer 14. Totals 28 6-11 71.

3-pointers: Golden Valley 2 (Grayson 2), Merced 5 (Kelly 3, Lee 1, Trujillo 1); Total Fouls: Golden Valley 17, Merced 20; Fouled out: Valadez (GV).

Records: Golden Valley 7-5 CCC, 14-13; Merced 10-2, 18-8.

JV -- Merced 62-34.

Frosh -- Merced won.

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