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Picking up the pace: Atwater ups tempo, races past Hilmar with big second half

ATWATER -- John Kane felt his team was playing too slow.

The Atwater coach wanted to see his boys basketball team pick up the pace on Tuesday.

It did.

The quick tempo turned into easy baskets as Atwater ran away from Hilmar 71-58.

"We really tried to speed it up," Kane said. "By picking up the speed, I knew we would give up a few (points).

"I thought we did a good job of making some adjustments at halftime and that led to some easy baskets."

Hilmar's sharp-shooters kept it in the game early.

Josh Tung and Jomar Taa each hit a pair of 3-pointers as Hilmar (2-2) trailed just 33-32 at the half.

However, Hilmar's inability to get back on defense led to some easy transition baskets for Atwater in the second half.

Eriq Belt and Colton Beatty led the way for Kane's boys.

Beatty scored a game-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds.

Belt scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.

"Everything was a little cleaner in the second half," Kane said. "We rebounded a little cleaner and that led to some easy baskets.

"I think our pace had something to do with it."

Atwater (3-3) finally put the game away with a 14-4 run to start the fourth quarter. Five different Atwater players scored during the four-minute stretch.

Tung led Hilmar with 16 points.

The game turned ugly midway through the fourth quarter.

Belt and Hilmar's Daniel Johnson collided at midcourt with Johnson landing on Belt.

Tempers flared and soon players were pushing and shoving.

Atwater's Albert Martinez and Juan Diaz were both ejected from the game.

Johnson was sent to the locker room and didn't return.

Kane said his players were responding to a punch thrown by a Hilmar player.

"We didn't maintain our composure," Kane said. "They are just 17-year-olds and they saw one of our guys get punched, so they're going to react.

"It was a physical game and the refs let them play. Hopefully, we can learn from it because we'll be down two players on Thursday."

Atwater opens the Save Mart Classic at home on Thursday against Gustine.

At Atwater

HILMAR 15 17 11 15 -- 58

ATWATER 17 16 15 23 -- 71

HILMAR -- Noel Zaldana 5, Luke Lamarre 7, Josh Tunge 16, Jomar Ta-a, Daniel Mouro 2, Daniel Johnson 2, Deep Gill 5, Danny Cardoso 4, Lucky Athwal 2, Daniel Greenleaf 9. Totals: 21 10-17 58.

ATWATER -- Eriq Belt 14, Andrew Rogers 8, Juan Diaz 3, Jose Rivas 2, Michael Cortez 2, Benito Barco 2, Giovanni Dalmaso 4, Colton Beatty 17, Bryant La Count 13, Albert Martinez 6. Totals: 27 16-29 71.

3-pointers: Hilmar 6 (Tunge 2, Cardoso 2, Ta-a 2, Zaldana 1), Atwater 1 (Beatty); Team Fouls: Hilmar 23, Atwater 13. Fouled Out: Hilmar -- Lamarre, Tunge. Ejected: Atwater -- Martinez, Diaz.

Records: Hilmar 2-2; Atwater 3-3.

JV -- Atwater won.