MODESTO — Two of the top big men in the Central California Conference -- Golden Valley's Josh Sykes and Atwater's Ben Peterson -- squared off Friday night in the Modesto City Classic.
Neither gave an inch as the their teams were locked in a tight battle late in the fourth quarter. But when Peterson picked up his fourth foul with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter he was forced to take a seat on the bench.
Golden Valley took over, finishing the quarter with a 7-0 run to open a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Sykes scored nine of his 11 points in the second half while Peterson in foul trouble as the Cougars (2-1) ran away with a 68-47 win at the Modesto City Classic at Downey High.
Peterson finished with a team-high 18 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
"It's huge when Ben fouls out," said Atwater coach Tony Hillyer, whose team is 1-2. "Our offense kind of gets stagnant. He's a big presence."
The Falcons were able to hang with Golden Valley by pitching a tent at the free-throw line. Atwater made 18 of 21 free throws in the first half, but still trailed 30-26 at intermission.
Golden Valley was whistled for 15 fouls in the first two quarters.
"We were hack machines in the first half," said Cougars coach Keith Hunter, whose team improved to 2-1 and will face Merced today at 3 p.m. at Downey. "We fouled. We're trying to play hard, but at this point we're playing too much with our hands. We made an adjustment at halftime."
Christian Carroll had the hot hand for GV, scoring 10 points in the first quarter and finishing with a career-high 25. Carroll knocked down four of the Cougars' nine triples.
"Josh was setting some great screens," Carroll said.
Merced 53, Lathrop 39
Travante Richard's week-long head cold hasn't hurt him on the court. The 6-foot-3 junior totaled 17 of his game-leading 20 points before halftime of the Bears' bounceback victory at the Modesto City Classic.
Richard, two inches taller and stronger than in his sophomore season, spiced Merced's fast start. He accounted for 9 points during the Bears' 16-4 run to open the game. Merced's sticky man-to-man defense trapped Lathrop at times, forced the tempo and keyed the pull-away.