Donte Scott's smile never left his face. It might not come off all weekend.
Surrounded by family and friends, the Golden Valley senior was soaking in the moment.
Scott delivered 22 big points and slowed down Merced star Allen Huddleston just enough as Golden Valley pulled out a thrilling 80-74 win in front of a crowd of 1,600 Friday night at Cougar Arena.
The win finished off a season sweep of Merced and pulled GV (8-2 Central California Conference, 21-4 overall) even atop the conference standings with its crosstown rival with two games left in the regular season.
"Me, John (Sykes) and Alex (Fletcher) have been waiting four years to win a CCC championship," Scott said.
"Now that we have it in our hands, we're not going to let it go."
The two top teams in the CCC put on another show.
Tickets for the game were sold out by 3 p.m. on Friday.
"It was a heck of a game," said Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter. "We fought and fought and fought."
Huddleston was on fire early, scoring 21 of his 30 points in the first half.
However, it was Golden Valley that rallied back from an 11-point deficit to take a 42-41 lead at the half.
Golden Valley's John Sykes was unstoppable at times.
The senior scored 19 of his 33 points in the first half.
"He dominated the game," Hunter said. "The way he finishes from 6 feet in is unique. I don't think I've ever seen a player do it like him."
Merced (8-2, 16-9) seemed to be pulling away in the second half.
Merced capitalized on its nine offensive rebounds in the third quarter.
Bernard Bolden (10 points) and Patrick Franey (13 points) helped Merced open up a 70-60 lead with seven minutes left in the game.
Then Sykes took over.
The 6-foot-5 point guard scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, dominating the paint.
Sykes hit a shot to tie the game at 72-72 with 3:40 remaining on the clock.
"It was a pretty emotional game," said Sykes, who also pulled down 10 rebounds. "It almost makes you want to cry at times.
"I kicked it in late and it just happened."
Scott scored on a breakaway layup to give Golden Valley a 74-72 lead.
"I can't say enough about Donte Scott," Merced coach Marcus Knott said. "He hit some tough shots. There were shots he hit over Ronnie (Dunham) and Reggie (Nelson) when I thought they played good defense.
"We knew somebody else besides John was going to have to score for them and he made the difference."
Golden Valley held Merced to just four points in the final seven minutes as GV closed the game with a 16-4 run.
As the final buzzer sounded the GV crowd rushed the floor to celebrate another win over Merced.
at Golden Valley
Merced 26 15 24 9 -- 74
G. Valley 19 23 16 22 -- 80
MERCED -- Ronnie Dunham 2, Bernard Bolden 10, Bobby Salinas 7, Reggie Nelson 5, Allen Huddleston 30, Marques Barron 7, Patrick Franey 13. Totals: 30 4-6 74.
GOLDEN VALLEY -- Scott Livesay 10, Richard Thomas 2, Donte Scott 22, James Stockton 2, John Sykes 33, Alex Fletcher 4, Justin Wooten 3, Garrett Hill 4. Totals: 34 7-13 80.
3-pointers: Merced 10 (Huddleston 5, Bolden 2, Salinas 1, Nelson 1, Franey 1), Golden Valley 5 (Scott 2, Livesay 2, Wootten 1).
Records: Merced 8-2 CCC, 16-9 overall; Golden Valley 8-2, 21-4.
JV -- Merced won 60-49; Frosh -- GV won."Not many teams beat Merced," Scott said. "We swept them."