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Prep Basketball: Peaking too soon

Brad Reed used a number of timeouts.

He moved personnel on and off of the court, looking for the right combination.

He calmly encouraged from his seat on the bench, and when that failed, Reed even tried raising his voice.

But regardless of the strings the Merced coach attempted to pull, nothing could coax his girls basketball team out of a 14-plus minute lull in which it went scoreless from the field.

Oakdale took full advantage, going on a 28-3 run that spanned almost the entire second and third quarters in a 40-35 victory at the Merced Invitational.

Oakdale (3-1) will face Mission San Jose in the championship game today at 7:30 p.m.

Merced will take on Mt. Eden in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

"We have trouble scoring," Reed admitted. "We've had a few runs this season where we just couldn't knock anything down.

"We're pretty much a new team and it's something they're going to have to learn to play through."

Merced's struggles were all the more painful because of its brilliant start.

With some tenacious defensive pressure and sharp shooting from the outside, Merced raced out to a 22-8 lead.

Merced was 4 of 8 from the 3-point land and forced 12 turnovers in the quarter.

"They didn't handle our defensive pressure very well," Reed said.

"We got some transition baskets, but also knocked down some spot-up shots."

Unfortunately, Merced couldn't sustain its intensity.

Rachel Turner knocked down two of her team-high nine points early in the second quarter and Merced didn't hit another shot until Becca Schonaver's jumper 15 seconds into the fourth quarter.

"I don't know what happened on offense, but defensively, I just think we got tired," Turner said.

Oakdale's Cassandra Clarke broke the game open, scoring 10 of her game-high 21 points in the third quarter.

Shelby Blackwell (nine points) helped Merced make a late run with back-to-back floaters, but it was too late.

"We just didn't get enough good looks in the second half," Reed said. "Take away five of our turnovers and we probably win the game."

Merced Tournament

OAKDALE 40, MERCED 35

At Merced

Oakdale 8 14 14 4 -- 40

Merced 22 4 1 8 -- 35

OAKDALE -- Tara Meunir 3, Cassandra Clarke 21, Nycole McHenry 6, Alana Jones 2, Jeannie Paul 8. Totals 13 12-16 40.

MERCED -- Shelby Blackwell 9, Kelsey Hanson 3, Saajidh Abdul-Hameen 6, Lauren Lilly 4, Becca Schonaver 2, Rachel Turner 9, Jealinda Mills 2. Totals 13 5-7 35.

3-pointers: Oakdale 2 (Clarke 2), Merced 4 (Turner, Abdul-Hameen, Hanson, Blackwell); Total Fouls: Oakdale 13, Merced 14; Fouls Outs: None.

Records: Oakdale 3-1, Merced 2-3.

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