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Shock treatment: Merced loses comfy lead in huge upset by No. 8 Stockton Edison

STOCKTON -- Jarrett Sparks didn't want his high school basketball career end this way.

Allen Huddleston was the last Merced player to leave the locker room.

There was no way to hide the pain.

No. 8 seed Stockton Edison put an end to top-seeded Merced's season with a stunning 72-63 overtime win in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs Tuesday at UOP's Spanos Center.

Edison (21-8) stormed back from a 14-point halftime deficit to send the game into overtime and then scored the first 10 points of the extra period to knock out Merced.

"It hurts pretty bad," Sparks said. "I don't think I played my best game. It was a bad way to end the season. I feel like I let my teammates down."

Sparks made just 4 of 21 shots from the floor and finished with just 13 points and seven rebounds.

However, there was plenty of blame to go around.

Merced (20-9)collapsed against Edison's pressure in the second half and finished with a staggering 30 turnovers in the game.

"We should have won the game," said Merced's Kenny Cooper, who finished with 15 points and 22 rebounds. "We shouldn't have even gone to overtime. We just had mental breakdowns."

It was a second half nobody saw coming -- not after Merced outscored Edison 26-11 in the second quarter to take a 30-16 lead into intermission.

And looked totally dominant doing it.

Huddleston was in a groove, scoring 11 of his 21 points during the quarter.

Merced's half-court zone defense had Edison flustered as the Central California Conference champions appeared headed for a semifinal game at Arco Arena on Thursday.

"I can't tell you what was said in the locker room -- a lot of expletives and bleeps," said Edison coach Richard Lynch.

Edison took over the game in the second half, starting the third quarter with a 14-3 run to cut the lead to 33-30.

Merced turned the ball over nine times -- seven of the errors unforced -- in the third quarter alone.

"I think (Merced) was rattled," Lynch said. "They went away from what got them ahead by 14, and at the same time, I think we got away from what put us behind by 14."

Merced's zone wasn't as effective with Edison's Brandon Pascual (22 points) hitting all four of his 3-pointers in the second half.

When Pascual wasn't hitting treys, Edison worked the ball into Willie Williams, who led all scorers with 29 points.

Merced seemed helpless to thwart Edison's momentum and Williams finally pulled his team even at 53-53 with a pair of free throws with 2:06 left in the game.

With the game tied at 55-55, Merced had a shot to win the game in regulation, but Sparks missed a runner in the lane and Cooper couldn't really control his put-back attempt.

"Once Edison got going, it was a fight," Merced coach Marcus Knott said. "I thought our kids hung in there. We had an opportunity to win the game at the end."

When the game went to overtime, though, it was all Edison.

Pascual started the overtime with a 3-pointer and Williams scored on a three-point play as Edison put the game away with a quick 10-0 run.

Merced players suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves dealing with the end of their season.

"I really don't know what happened," Huddleston said. "It's really hurtful to lose like that. You're not going to win a big ballgame when you turn the ball over that many times."

Sac-Joaquin Section

Division I Playoffs, Quarterfinals

No. 8 EDISON 72

No. 1 MERCED 63

at The Spanos Center, Stockton

Merced 4 26 12 13 8 -- 63

Edison 5 11 19 20 17 -- 72

MERCED -- Bernard Bolden 3, Allen Huddleston 24, Kenny Cooper 15, Jarrett Sparks 13, Patrick Franey 6, Eddie Beavers 2. Totals 25 8-12 63.

EDISON -- Trumaine Johnson 6, Brandon Pascual 22, Kaw'wayne Defils 2, Lamontay Hall 9, Willie Williams 29, Jamel Kelly 4.

Totals 21 24-31 72.

3-pointers: Edison 6 (Pascual 4, Hall 2), Merced (Bolden 1, Huddleston 3, Sparks); Rebounds: Edison 37 (Williams 10), Merced 48 (Cooper 22); Assists: Edison 14 (Johnson 7), Merced 14 (Huddleston 3, Sparks 3, Franey 3, Dunham 3); Total fouls: Edison 17, Merced 24; Fouled out: Johnson (E), Huddleston (M).

Records: Edison 21-8; Merced 20-9.

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