Matt Thissen said he knew he was picking his poison on Tuesday night.
If Merced High was going to beat his Golden Valley girls basketball team, Tekerra Borden and Dalonna Jones weren't going to be doing the bulk of the damage.
The Cougars came out in a box-and-one defense with Beatriz Munoz trailing Borden, leaving the four remaining players to clamp down on Jones with the goal of making life difficult for her in the post.
It was a challenge to the rest of the Merced team to step up.
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Lexi Thompson (game-high 21 points), Oleachea Bowers (14) and Mahogany Stitt (13) all answered the call.
Golden Valley couldn't keep pace offensively and the Bears rolled to a 66-23 victory at Cougar Arena.
"I told the girls coming in it was a risk-reward defense," Thissen said. "I thought Beatriz Munoz did a great job on Tekerra, we basically shut her down with just three free throws, but unfortunately Lexi and Oleachea stepped up and knocked down shots."
Merced closed the first half of Central California Conference play by locking up a playoff spot with its 15th victory.
If the Bears (3-2 CCC, 15-7) are going to make a run at the conference crown, head coach Brad Reed acknowledged they're going to need more secondary contributions like they got on Tuesday night.
"We've been telling the girls we can't just have two scorers," Reed said. "We need a third and fourth girl to step up every night, so it was nice to see some kids be more aggressive with the extra space.
"Bowers was open a lot in the first half and then Lexi got hot in the second half.
"We need to shoot the 3 better as a team, so it nice to knock some down."
Bowers had the hot hand early, scoring 11 of her 14 points in the first half. She added seven rebounds and three steals as Merced took a comfortable 32-11 lead into intermission.
Thompson came out in the third quarter and quickly put the game permanently out of reach with a 13-point outburst.
Anything that didn't fall, Stitt and Jones (15 points, 11 rebounds, nine blocks) cleaned up on the inside.
"There was some extra room with the defense they were playing," Stitt said. "I was able to get inside and I just really focused on making my layups today.
"Coach is always pushing us to shoot a little more. Tonight we did it."
Camille Flores had six of her team-high eights points in the fourth quarter for Golden Valley (0-5 CCC, 3-17). Munoz chipped in five.
Los Banos 58, Pacheco 25
LOS BANOS -- Alexis Barcellos (game-high 14 points) hit four 3s as Los Banos blew out Pacheco.
Danae Lopez and Samantha Rodriguez each paced the Panthers with six points.
Le Grand 44 (OT)
LE GRAND -- Patty Guizar scored a team-high 16 points and Madison Furtado chipped in seven, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs fell in overtime.