MERCED -- Allen Huddleston wasn't taking any chances. With a shot to win the game, the Merced star waved off his teammates.
With eight seconds left, he hit a fadeaway jumper from 10 feet at the buzzer as Merced High beat Turlock 59-57 for its second Central California Conference nailbiter in a row.
"I wanted the basket," said the Pacific-bound Huddleston, who scored 36 points. "I didn't want to take a three or a jumper. When I got by my guy, I saw another guy standing to take a charge. So I shot a little fadeaway and it went in."
Huddleston rebounded from a first half that saw him make just 3 of 12 shots.
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The steady play of Eric Wetzel, Travis Souza and Anthony Hubbard gave Turlock (10-7, 1-1 CCC) a 27-25 lead at the half.
"It was our home opener and our guys were amped," said Merced coach Marcus Knott, whose Bears (9-6, 2-0), ranked third by The Bee, nipped Pitman in Wednesday's CCC opener.
"I think this was one situation where there was too much excitement and anticipation."
Huddleston attacked the basket in the second half, scoring 12 in a row for Merced at one point. He had 25 points in the second half.
"He finally stopped shooting the threes and fadeaways," Knott said. "He attacked the rim."
Turlock refused to go away.
Wetzel scored 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Souza and Hubbard both had 16 points as the game went back and forth down the stretch, and Souza's shot tied it at 57.
On Turlock's next possession, Hubbard collided with Merced's Patrick Franey on the way to the basket and it was Hubbard called for the charge with eight seconds remaining.
Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot couldn't believe the call.
"For some reason we don't get the respect we deserve in these type of games," Cornfoot said. "Our kids played their hearts out. They did everything we asked."
That set the stage for Huddleston.
"That was give it to your best player and let him make a shot," Knott said.