Buhach Colony’s Jack Bustabade scored two fourth-quarter goals as the Thunder edged Merced 9-8 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II water polo playoffs at Golden Valley High on Friday night.
The sixth-seeded Thunder took an 8-6 lead with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter on goals by Bustabade and Josh Whitaker.
The third-seeded Bears rallied late as Easton Hamm (five goals) scored a goal to cut the lead to 8-7 with 1:23 left.
After Bustabade extended the lead with a goal, Hamm answered with another score to cut the lead to 9-8 with under a minute left.
Merced had an opportunity to tie the game late with a power play, but mishandled a pass with 15 seconds left.
Bustabade and Brayden Fookes both finished with three goals for Buhach Colony. Goalie Gannon Groth finished with 12 saves for the Thunder.
The Bears had battled back from a 6-3 deficit at the half by outscoring BC 3-0 in the third quarter. David Chen scored three goals for Merced.
Buhach Colony will advance to the semifinals against No. 2 Rodriguez on Wednesday at Tokay High at 12:45 p.m.