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Merced three-peat: Buhach Colony's Bliss comes up empty in first return to old stomping grounds

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY LISA JAMES
Bernard Bolden of Merced scores against Buhach.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY LISA JAMES Bernard Bolden of Merced scores against Buhach.

Marcus Knott didn't like what he saw before the game.

Knott felt his Merced boys basketball team was a little too loose before Friday night's game against Buhach Colony.

It showed.

Merced overcame some sloppy stretches to still defeat BC comfortably 85-74 in the regular season finale.

"We didn't play very well," Knott said. "I don't know exactly why that was. You have to credit Buhach for playing hard. They were more intense than we were.

"We were able to make a couple runs and that was the difference in the game.

"But we're going to have to be sharper in the playoffs."

The win did give Merced a share of its third straight Central California Conference title.

"It's been a long time since we've been able to say that," Knott said. "We haven't won three straight titles since 1996.

"We have such a rich tradition here and we're trying to rebuild it. We've been fortunate enough to have a group of kids the last four or five years that understand what that means."

Allen Huddleston led the way for Merced (10-2 CCC, 18-9 overall) with 24 points, despite sitting out the fourth quarter.

Teammates Patrick Franey (17 points), Bernard Bolden (11 ) and Eddie Beavers (10) all finished in double-figures.

"That's what we're going to need to do in the playoffs," Franey said. "We need to help Allen.

"He's going to be our leading scorer. But if we can get a couple guys with eight or nine points, we'll be good."

Denzel Brown led BC (1-11, 10-17) with 18 points and Hodari Peterson added 17.

"We just didn't have enough offensive firepower for the CCC," said Buhach Colony coach John Bliss, who finished his first season at Buhach after moving over from Merced High.

"It was very different tonight sitting on the right side of the scorers table. I have a lot of fond memories in this gym.

"Our goal is to have similar success at Buhach Colony in the future."

Merced will now sit and wait until the Sac-Joaquin Section releases the playoff brackets on Sunday afternoon.

Knott believes Merced will be matched up against an athletic Sacramento Burbank team in the first round.

"If it's Burbank, it will be difficult, but it will be a fun game," Knott said.

"Whoever we play is going to have to come here and I like our chances in here against anybody."

MERCED 85,

BUHACH COLONY 74

At Merced

Buhach Colony 12 23 24 15 -- 74

Merced 17 26 27 15 -- 85

BUHACH COLONY -- Hodari Peterson 17, Tanner Gleason 6, Jarrel Davis 8, Denzel Brown 18, Adrian Gonzales 11, Justin Lewison 4, Daniel Bolsar 6, Adam Wakefield 4. Totals: 31 9-16 74.

MERCED -- Otis Caery 5, Ronnie Duham 2, Bernard Bolden 11, Bobby Salinas 2, Reggie Nelson 6, Eddie Beavers 10, Allen Huddleston 24, Marques Barron 4, Tynan Pedretti 4, Patrick Franey 17. Totals: 32 16-19 85.

3-pointers: Buhach Colony 3 (Gleason 2, Davis 1), Merced 3 (Caery 1, Franey 1, Bolden 1); Total Fouls: Buhach Colony 18, Merced 19; Fouled Out: Beavers (M).

Records: Buhach Colony 1-11 CCC, 10-17 overall; Merced 10-2, 18-9.

JV -- Merced 70-47. Frosh -- Buhach Colony 74-38.

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