ATWATER — Daniel Motz has had the hot hand for the Atwater High boys basketball team this week.
The senior kept his smooth stroke going, making three 3-pointers on his way to a team-high 13 points to help the Falcons defeat Mariposa 63-45 on Thursday night in the first round of the Save Mart Classic at Atwater High.
"He's doing fabulous," said Atwater coach Tony Hillyer, whose team improved to 5-2. "I've got Ben (Peterson) down low. I've been telling my shooters we need them to step up. Daniel is a senior. This is his last year. He's going for it."
Motz hit four 3-pointers in wins over Hilmar and Langston Hughes Academy this week.
He came out and knocked down two treys in the first quarter to help the Falcons build an early 22-9 lead after the first eight minutes.
"Ben is down low clogging up the lane," Motz said. "It helps open up the outside for us. When we get both games going we help each other out."
Mariposa (2-2) struggled against Atwater's pressure. The Grizzlies turned the ball over 23 times.
Meanwhile, the Falcons had balanced scoring with Peterson (11 points), Josh Heller (10) and Corbett McDaniel (10) all scoring in doube-figures.
"That's the way I like it," Hillyer said. "When we get four guys in double-figures we're going to win. That's team basketball right there. That's chemistry."
Dillon Acker-James paced Mariposa with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.
Acker-James scored two baskets in the final 32 seconds of the first half to pull the Grizzlies within striking distance at 32-20 at halftime.
However, the Falcons blitzed Mariposa at the start of the second half.
Atwater forced the Grizzlies into eight turnovers in the third quarter as the Falcons used a 19-2 run to blow the game open.
Motz scored two baskets to start the spurt and later added his third 3-pointers of the game. Anthony De la Hoya also came up with a steal and a basket, followed by a quick 3-pointer.
Before the Grizzlies could catch their breath they were staring at 51-20 deficit with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Hillyer removed his starters with about two minutes left in the third quarter.
Mariposa forced the Falcons to bring their starters back on the court midway through the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run that cut the lead to 58-39.
The Falcons will face Escalon in a semifinal matchup tonight at 8 p.m.
"It is important for us to make the championship game of this tournament," Hillyer said. "It should be Buhach Colony and us because it's our tournament.
"The two teams have never played in the championship game."