ATWATER Score one for dad.
It was hard to tell who was more excited, Atwater High boys basketball coach Tony Hillyer, or the dozens of Atwater students who stormed the court as the Falcons celebrated a 75-72 upset of Buhach Colony on Wednesday night at Atwater High.
It was an emotional night for Hillyer as he led Atwater to a victory over the Thunder and his son, Stephen.
"This was beyond special," Tony said. "Stephen, Roger (Klauser), Joe (Marquez), they came out firing. Those are my boys and I had fun watching them while coaching my team.
"I had the best of both worlds. I got caught up a couple times when Stephen hit some threes."
The crowd was already in a frenzy at the start of the game after watching the junior varsity game go to overtime.
That was just the warm-up.
Atwater's tiny gym was packed as there was still a line of people outside waiting to get in during the second quarter of the varsity game.
The Hillyers exchanged hugs as the starting lineups were announced and then it was game on.
Buhach Colony (2-3 Central California Conference, 14-8 overall) threatened to run away in the first half at times.
Marquez had the hot hand all night, draining six 3-pointers on his way to a 31-point performance.
Stephen Hillyer did his part to beat his father's team, connecting on three treys of his own in the first half on his way to 19 points.
However, Atwater (3-2, 14-8) did enough to stay within 44-37 at halftime.
"We knew coming in that Tony would have his game plan for us," Marquez said. "We knew it would be a good game."
Still trailing by seven points midway through the third quarter, the Falcons caught fire.
Josh Heller and Daniel Motz each hit a pair of 3-pointers in a stretch of 2 minutes and 18 seconds of the third quarter that saw Atwater go on a 14-2 run to turn a 50-43 deficit into a 57-52 lead with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
"That was big," Stephen Hillyer said. "That changed the momentum right there."
The game went back and forth down the stretch.
Marquez hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Thunder started the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 63-59 lead with 5:20 left in the game.
The Falcons responded by going inside to their 6-foot-5 center Ben Peterson, who scored four quick points to pull Atwater even at 63-all with 2:40 left.
Peterson more than held his own against Buhach Colony's trio of Aaron Cochran, Kaden Verdin and Roger Klauser. The Atwater junior kept attacking, not only scoring 20 points, but he helped put all three of Buhach's big men in foul trouble.
The lead changed hands four times in the final minutes.
Stephen Hillyer worked his way in the lane for a basket to give the Thunder a 65-63 lead only to see Daniel Motz (15 points) nail one of his five 3-pointers on the other end just seconds later.
Stephen Hillyer answered back with a pair of free throws to again give BC a 67-66 lead with 2:09 remaining.
Atwater answered with a Peterson basket inside. Motz added another shot from beyond the arc to extend the Falcons' lead to 71-67 with 1:31 left.
Marquez later hit a trey to cut Atwater's lead to 73-72 with 15.8 seconds left.
Atwater's Jordan Esparza sank two free throws to make it 75-72 with 13.2 seconds.
Marquez then misfired on two game-tying shots in the final seconds.
"This is the No. 1 win on top of the list," Peterson said. "It's Buhach. We never beat them."