Union Democrat reports

Columbia’s hopes of grabbing a share of its first Central Valley Conference title since 1995 were dashed Wednesday night, as was the Claim Jumpers six game win streak.

The Merced Blue Devils beat Columbia 78-73 in Merced to sweep the season series and remain the only conference team the Claim Jumpers didn’t beat this season.

Fresno City (22-6, 11-2 CVC) won its 16th consecutive CVC crown by thrashing Porterville 101-64 on the road.

“We didn’t play with enough energy from start to finish,” said Columbia head coach Rob Hoyt. “We collectively will need a better effort on Saturday to end the regular season on a good note.”

Columbia’s top scorer DeAndre Stallings scored a game-high 31 points, including 20 in the second half, and hit five 3-pointers, Eli McLaurin added 11 points and Lewayne Grant had 10.

Columbia trailed 40-30 at halftime.

Also for the Claim Jumpers, Jordan Windley scored eight points, all in the first half, Ethan McLaurin had five, Joseph Babineaux four and Eugene Harvey and Elon Spencer each made a bucket.

Columbia (14-10, 9-4 CVC) remains alone in second place but just one game in front of Merced (16-10, 8-5 CVC) which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Claim Jumpers can clinch second Saturday night with a victory in the regular season finale at West Hills. The Jumpers defeated West Hills 74-65 Jan. 25 at Oak Pavilion.

Merced on Saturday hosts Porterville (10-16, 7-6 CVC).