ATWATER — Call it instincts. Call it athleticism. Dashawn Holcombe called it pure luck.
The Turlock senior found himself in the right place at the right time, as Holcombe came up with a steal and scored the eventual game-winning basket with 12 seconds left as the Bulldogs stunned Buhach Colony 59-58 on Friday night at the Thunder Dome.
Trailing by one point late in the game, Holcombe pulled up for a jumper on the left baseline, but his shot hit off the side of the backboard.
Buhach Colony's Roger Klauser grabbed the rebound and passed the ball to teammate Tyler Dew. The Thunder senior never saw Holcombe in front of him.
Dew dribbled once and Holcombe pounced in for the steal, passed the ball to Turlock's Kenny Fraser. Holcombe then cut to the basket and Fraser found him for the basket to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Buhach Colony's Stephen Hillyer missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, leading to a Turlock celebration.
"It was just luck," said Holcombe, who led Turlock with 13 points. "I knew I had to do something. I had to get the ball back. It was my fault for shooting it like that."
The Thunder (1-1 Central California Conference, 13-6 overall) let one get away.
Buhach Colony couldn't close out the win despite holding a 56-51 lead with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game.
The Thunder took some quick shots in the final minutes of the game instead of running the clock and managing the game.
"We made a lot of mental mistakes, especially down the stretch," Buhach Colony coach John Bliss said. "We gave the game away. That's what we did."
The Thunder started slow as they watched Turlock (1-1, 11-8) sprint out to a 17-4 lead in the first quarter.
Buhach Colony caught fire in the second quarter as seniors Joe Marquez (21 points) and Klauser (14 points) led the charge. The Thunder trailed only 33-32 at intermission.
Marquez scored on a three-point play and followed it up with a 3-pointer to give Buhach Colony a 42-37 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Thunder took a 49-45 lead into the fourth quarter, but Marquez picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter.
Marquez came back into the game with 5:40 left on the clock and the score still the same, but Buhach Colony couldn't close the door on the Bulldogs.
That set the stage for Holcombe.
"The last couple games, Dashawn has been really strong, but in the fourth quarter, it's not that he disappears, but he's not as aggressive," Turlock coach Doug Cornfoot said. "We talked to him. He's our biggest offensive threat with his speed and athleticism."