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Weary Merced fades late in game

SALIDA -- Marcus Knott hopes this isn't the start of a trend.

The Merced boys basketball coach watched his team let another winnable game slip away.

Ontario Colony erased an eight-point deficit in the second half with a big fourth quarter to defeat Merced 77-66 in a consolation game at the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic on Saturday morning.

Merced (4-5) opened up a 51-43 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

However, Colony (7-4) went on a 15-4 run during the next four minutes to take a 58-55 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

"We felt we should have won the game," Knott said. "We were up eight points and we let off on our concentration level. We got too comfortable."

Merced predictably started slow after losing a nailbiter to Modesto Christian late Friday night -- a mere 12 hours earlier. The tired legs showed as Colony jumped out to a 20-9 lead after the first quarter.

"It was hard," Knott said. "The kids were tired. I was tired and I didn't even play (Friday) night."

After watching Colony shred Merced's man-to-man defense, Knott switched to a 2-3 zone.

The zone frustrated Colony and Knott's boys turned it around offensively.

Again it was Allen Huddleston leading the way.

The senior guard followed up his fantastic 50-point performance against MC Friday night with 32 points against Colony.

Huddleston scored

10 points in a second quarter that saw Merced outscore Colony 25-13 to take a 34-33 lead at the half.

Huddleston hit six 3-pointers in the game. However, the points didn't come as easy with Huddleston often forcing shots.

Kenny Cooper came up big inside for Merced with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

"We didn't run our offense and we had a couple breakdowns defensively," Cooper said. "It's very frustrating. We let another game we could have won get away. We just have to move on and play the next game."

COLONY 77, MERCED 66

At Salida

Colony 20 13 13 31 -- 77

Merced 9 25 17 15 -- 66

COLONY -- David Trujillo 13, Julian Caldwell 7, Gene Saulsberry 17, Chris Cooper 8, Dennis Craig 6, Miles Holland 4, Evan Brooks 19, Edward Todd 3. Totals: 29 14-23 77.

MERCED -- Ronnie Dunham 5, Bernard Bolden 3, Reggie Nelson 6, Allen Huddleston 32, Kenny Cooper 12, Manny Orozco 3, Marques Barron 2, Patrick Franey 3. Totals: 21 15-23 66.

3-pointers: Colony 5 (Brooks 4, Saulsberry 1), Merced 8 (Huddleston 6, Bolden 1, Dunham 1); Team Fouls: Colony 19, Merced 18. Fouled Out: Franey (M).

Records: Colony 7-4; Merced 4-5.

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