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Whoa! Golden Valley's ferocious rally derails Merced streak

The chant from the Merced student section turned out to be a bit premature.

After watching their team storm out to a 19-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, many of the fans dressed in orange and black began chanting, "This one's over."

Boy, were they wrong.

Golden Valley sank 10 3-pointers on its way to a shocking 76-63 win Friday night at Cougar Arena, spoiling Merced's perfect run through the Central California Conference.

"We're the only ones to beat them," said GV senior Damarya Moody, who led all players with 26 points. "It feels great because nobody thought we could do it."

Moody and his teammates celebrated the upset with the roaring GV student section, which stormed the court after the final buzzer.

It was a thrilling end for a Golden Valley team that probably won't make the playoffs.

"This shows the heart and character these kids have," said GV coach Keith Hunter, whose team improved to 6-6 in the CCC and 13-14 overall.

"I'll be so disappointed if we don't get in the playoffs because they deserve it."

Merced (11-1, 18-9) will have to wait until Sunday to find out if it still enters the playoff as the top seed in Division I.

"It's not the end of the world for us," Merced coach Marcus Knott said. "We'll refocus. We'll be coming off the loss and be ready to get back in there.

"What better time than in the playoffs."

After falling behind by 18 points early in the second quarter, GV had to ditch its strategy of running the clock down on every possession.

"I wanted to get to halftime with the score something in the 20s," Hunter said. "Even if we were down six or seven, that was OK.

"That didn't work. We had to go back to who we were. Our kids played as hard as they could and they were rewarded."

Everything fell apart for Merced when its top scorer Allen Huddleston went to the bench with his third foul 36 seconds into the second period.

Moody took over, scoring 14 points in the second quarter as GV cut the lead to 32-29 at halftime.

With the crowd howling its approval, Golden Valley scored the first nine points of the second half and never trailed the rest of the way.

GV's John Sykes scored 17 points and Alex Fletcher chipped in with 11.

"Damarya Moody was unbelievable tonight," Hunter said. "I don't think I've been more proud of a player that has come through here and improved the way he has.

"He deserved that moment. That's something he'll remember for the rest of his life."

Unlike the last game against Merced when they blew a fourth-quarter lead, Golden Valley held on calmly down the stretch.

Huddleston scored 21 points before he fouled out with 1:51 remaining.

Jarrett Sparks added 21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks for Merced, which cut the lead to 64-58 with 2 minutes left.

Dante Scott halted Merced's momentum with a 3-pointer from the corner, though, and GV closed the deal with a 12-5 run.

"This was unbelievable," Moody said. "This was our playoff game."

Central California Conference

GOLDEN VALLEY 76

MERCED 63

at Golden Valley

Merced 19 13 12 19 -- 63

Golden Valley 3 26 26 21 -- 76

MERCED -- Allen Huddleston 21, Ronnie Dunham 3, Kenny Cooper 8, Jarrett Sparks 21, Kameron Huddleston 4, Patrick Franey 6. Totals 26 6-7 63.

GOLDEN VALLEY -- Damarya Moody 26, Dante Scott 10, John Sykes 17, Jeremy Jacobo 8, Alex Fletcher 11, James Stockton 4. Totals 26 11-16 76.

3-pointers: Merced 5 (Sparks 3, Huddleston 1, Dunham 1); Golden Valley 10 (Moody 4, Scott 3, Fletcher 3); Total Fouls: Merced 21; Golden Valley 11; Fouled out: A. Huddleston (M).

Records: Merced 11-1 CCC, 18-9 overall; Golden Valley 6-6, 13-14.

JV -- Merced 55-35; Frosh -- GV won.

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