ATWATER -- The first half lacked the intensity that coach Marcus Knott was seeking, but top-ranked Merced High still posted an 84-53 win over Buhach Colony on Wednesday night to stay atop the Central California Conference.
The Bears (15-7, 7-0) put their perfect conference record on the line Friday when they visit Pitman (15-6, 6-2). Merced beat Pitman 61-56 in their first meeting.
"Playing in this environment can be tough," Knott said. "There wasn't a whole lot of buzz in the gym. It was quiet and we struggled to get our intensity going.
"We talked at halftime about playing with our own intensity and creating our own emotion."
After going 1-for-8 in the first half, Allen Huddleston scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter. Center Kenny Cooper scored 11 of his 17 in the third quarter and finished with 11 rebounds.
"They had 23 offensive rebounds. That's 23 second chances." said Thunder coach Steve Abrams. "That was the difference in the game."
PITMAN 67, GOLDEN VALLEY 59, at Merced -- Austin Keaton scored 22 points and Sam Madden had three treys to go with his 13 points as the Pride (15-6, 6-2) beat the Cougars (8-11, 3-5).
LOS BANOS 62, ATWATER 51, at Los Banos -- Andrae Jones had 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and the Tigers (15-8, 5-3) used a 22-11 game-ending run to rally past the Falcons (4-19, 0-8).
Modesto Metro Conference
BEYER 68, JOHANSEN 44, at Beyer -- Kyle Barrett hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, accounting for all of his scoring, and the Patriots (9-15, 3-7) capitalized on the quick start to race past the Vikings (10-13, 4-6). Beyer led 20-9 after a quarter, using outside shots to beat a defense that sagged in on 6-foot-5-inch junior Bryan Garbez (15 points).
Blake Barber then scored eight of his 19 points in the third period, as Beyer took a 53-33 lead into the fourth quarter. Beyer finished 12 of 15 on its 3-point shots, with Scott Schendler (15 points) hitting five and Barber four.
DAVIS 50, ENOCHS 41, at Enochs -- Jose Blanco and Jordan Dickson scored 14 apiece as the Spartans (12-9, 4-6) topped the Eagles (5-17, 2-8), despite 15 points from Demetrius Prunty.
Valley Oak League
MANTECA 59, SONORA 51, at Sonora -- Nick Scheible (18 points) and freshman guard Kiwi Gardner (12 points) combined for 30 points and the Buffaloes (10-12, 6-3) were 10-for-11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to surprise the Wildcats (11-11, 4-5).
Junior Brenden Evans (21 points, nine rebounds) scored 16 of Sonora's 20 points in the final period, posting up near the basket to hit a variety of short shots.
SIERRA 50, CENTRAL VALLEY 29, at Manteca -- Christian Williams scored 23 points as the No. 5 large-school Timberwolves (17-4, 7-2) thumped CV (8-14, 3-6).
EAST UNION 51, OAKDALE 33, at Manteca -- Six-foot sophomore guard Tyler Bylow had 16 points as the Lancers (7-15, 2-7) handed the Mustangs (5-17, 0-9) their ninth consecutive loss.
Mother Lode League
BRET HARTE 57, AMADOR 47, at Angels Camp -- Six-foot-8-inch Brett Downey scored 13 points and the Bullfrogs (13-8, 5-5) used a 19-8 spurt in the second period to stun the Buffaloes (16-6, 7-3) and knock them from first place.
Mother Lode League girls
LINDEN 69, CALAVERAS 39, at San Andreas -- Nina Sanguinetti (24 points) and Jordan Baca (16 points) combined for 40 points as the Lions (16-5, 7-1) beat the Redskins (10-12, 6-4). The Lions hit 12 3-pointers, six by Sanguinetti.
DAVIS 39, DOWNEY 26, at Davis -- The Spartans (11-2, 5-0) won the outright league title by beating the Knights (7-4, 3-2). It was tight prior to the upper weights, but Davis senior Bobby Perez had a pin at 145 pounds, sparking six consecutive Davis wins.
"We have a young group, and they're really going after people," Davis coach Mike Cantwell said. "Our kids have competed well beyond our expectations."
A big match came early in the night, at 135 pounds. Davis' Mike Crowell pinned Eli Ramirez -- a state meet qualifier last year -- 1:35 into the first period.