SACRAMENTO — Reality set in with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.
With his team trailing by nearly 20, Merced High coach Marcus Knott turned toward his bench and called for second- and third-stringers.
Twenty seconds later, he threw in the towel, summoning star Allen Huddleston off the floor at Arco Arena.
The Pacific-bound guard tugged at his jersey, took one last peek at the nasty final score overhead — Folsom 67, Merced 50 — and then disappeared in a sea of long faces at the end of the bench.
"Hardest thing I've had to do," Knott said. "For the seniors especially, you know they're walking off the floor for the last time in your uniform. And that's hard."
The chase was over.
There was no catching No. 1 Folsom, which played like kings on the Sacramento Kings' home floor.
Tony Johnson erupted for 26 points and Kori Babineaux scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half as the defending Division I champion Bulldogs (29-1) whipped the No. 5 Bears (20-10).
Folsom will play No. 7 Franklin of Elk Grove on Saturday in the Division I championship at Arco. Merced's season is over.
"It's not something you're prepared for," said Knott, the last to leave the locker room after the game. "It's like I told them inside, 'I'm not disappointed in you or how you played. I'm disappointed you didn't get to achieve what you wanted to achieve.' "
Huddleston scored 26 points in his final high school game, but his performance was tempered by an off-shooting night. The 6-foot-1-inch guard was 6 of 17 from the floor.