ATWATER -- You can sense the excitement in Keith Hunters voice when he talks about the way his team has evolved this season.
The Golden Valley boys basketball coach watched proudly as the Cougars closed out a 74-64 win over Buhach Colony on Friday night.
Hes proud because hes watched his players go out and do the things it takes to play winning basketball. The little things, such as
Were so much better in all areas, Hunter said. Weve improved in every area of basketball. I think tonight we shot over 50 percent. Weve got our turnovers down in single digits from over 20 earlier in the year. Thats what good teams do.
We have guys diving on the floor who have never dove on the floor in their lives.
As a result, the Cougars (8-0 Central California Conference, 21-4 overall) have won 11 straight games and clinched a second straight CCC title.
It feels great, said point guard Christian Carroll, who scored 26 points. I love this team. I love playing with my teammates. This is huge for us.
The Cougars seemed in control for most of the night. Golden Valley worked its way to a 34-26 lead at the half by closing out the second quarter with a 10-0 run.
When Buhach Colony (4-4, 16-9) made runs in the second half to make it close, the Cougars always had an answer, and usually it was from long distance.
Golden Valley made 10 of 19 3-pointers with Carroll, Evan Stillahn and Dusty Nunes all sinking three apiece.
The Cougars hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.
I thought we defended the 3 better than the last game, but they just made some tough shots, Buhach Colony coach John Bliss said.
Joe Marquez carried the Thunder offense with 26 points.
The Cougars made the plays down the stretch to keep Buhach Colony from threatening to steal the win.
Whether it was Josh Sykes grabbing a big rebound, Carroll knocking down clutch free throws or Ben Fletcher diving on the floor to grab loose balls, the Cougars did what they needed.
Coach calls those loose balls 50-50 balls, Carroll said. He says we need to change the 50-50 balls to 75-25 balls for us. Its important to get those because that means less possessions for Buhach. You never know when Marquez is going to go off.
Turlock 50, Merced 41
TURLOCK -- Travante Richard scored 21 points, but it wasn't enough for the Bears (2-6 CCC, 9-16 overall).
Deshawn Holcombe led Turlock (5-3 CCC) with 12 points.
Atwater 79, Pitman 58
ATWATER -- The Falcons put the Pride away with a 26-point fourth quarter.
Ben Peterson scored 16 points to pace Atwater (5-3 CCC, 16-9 overall). Daniel Motz sank three 3-pointers to chip in with 13 points.
Central Catholic 73, Los Banos 28
LOS BANOS -- The Raiders put this game away early, jumping out to a 40-14 lead by the half.
John Fenton led the way with 17 points and Joe Hamilton added 15.
Jourdon Grissom led the Tigers (1-7 Western Athletic Conference with eight points.
Dos Palos 64, Firebaugh 50
DOS PALOS -- The Broncos improved to 3-3 in the West Sierra League with a win over their rivals.
Noah Croninger poured in 19 points for Dos Palos.
Le Grand 33, Denair 15
LE GRAND -- Patty Guizar's 14 points helped the Bulldogs pull even in the Southern League at 5-5.