Ceres High's varsity boys basketball team raced out to a 22-12 lead and appeared headed for a lopsided victory against visiting Golden Valley during last week's Sac-Joaquin Division-II outbracket playoff game.
The 17th-seeded Cougars countered with a 17-0 spurt to close the first half and edged out the No. 16 Bulldogs 57-55 in overtime Friday evening at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"We had some mental breakdowns on defense which allowed them to get some easy baskets," Ceres High senior guard Haaydn Martinez said. "On offense, we were rushing. We stopped executing on both ends. It's pretty disappointing our season was cut short. It wasn't a bad season. We had a winning record."
The Bulldogs posted a 15-12 overall record and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference (7-3).
Golden Valley improved to 15-13 on the year. The Cougars placed second in the Central California Conference (8-4).
"I'm proud of all the guys and what we accomplished," Martinez said. "We made the playoffs again. It was a fun season."
Martinez buried five treys and scored a team-high 20 points against Golden Valley.
Gurraj Purewal added nine points.
Cristian Garcia and Inder Sandhu both contributed eight points.
Nick Jones and freshman Dalton Durossette had six and four points, respectively.
The Bulldogs shot just 50 percent (7 of 14) from the free-throw line.
Cyrus Allen, Golden Valley's 6-foot-5 junior center, tallied a game-high 27 points.
Isaac Cropper and Silvestre Llamas added 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Allen had 13 points and Llamas scored eight in helping the Cougars build a 29-22 lead in the opening half.
Golden Valley erased a double-digit deficit.
"We stopped executing," Martinez said.
The Bulldogs outscored the Cougars 33-28 after intermission.
"I'm pretty happy with how we battled back," Martinez said. "We played with more intensity like we did in the first quarter."
Martinez forced overtime when he drained a contested 3-pointer from the left wing off a pass from Ontiveros with 5 seconds to play in the game.
"Right off the release, I knew it had a chance to go in," Martinez said. "It's a great feeling knowing my coaches and teammates trust me in clutch moments."
Golden Valley outscored Ceres High 6-4 in OT.