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Too little, too late for Timberwolves

Sierra spots Ceres 17-1 lead before offense awakens

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Too little, too late for Timberwolves

Sierra High's Mallory Weiler tries to escape double-team pressure from Ceres' Kaycee Creek and Jode Johnson, right, during a Valley Oak League home contest Thursday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 8, 2010 2:31 a.m.
It’s tough to dig up positives from a 40-32 loss, but Sierra High’s girls basketball team gave coach Steve Unterholzner reason to remain upbeat Thursday following  a thrilling start to the Valley Oak League season.

The Timberwolves (1-1 VOL, 6-6 overall) were down 9-1 to visiting Ceres after a quarter of play and didn’t sink their first field goal until Michelle Arroyo rattled in a deep jumper from the right wing with 3:03 left in the second, sparking a 7-0 run.

Sierra exploded for 17 fourth-quarter points after putting up just 15 over the first three, giving the Bulldogs (1-1, 6-6) cause for concern in the final minutes.

Sierra is coming off a stunning 36-34 victory over Sonora Tuesday, which marked its third straight win and sixth in seven games.

“I don’t care how good you are, there are always some negative things you can look at in a game, and if you dwell on those it’s going to be an incredibly long season,” Unterholzner said. “Tonight I saw some good things, but you can’t spot a team (a 17-1 lead) and expect to come away with a win.”

Down double digits for most of the game, Sierra cut the deficit to 38-30 following two free throws from Stephanie Vanni with 53.4 seconds to go. Arroyo, who finished with eight points, buried two 3-pointers and Jasmine Currimao added one earlier in the fourth to ignite the charge.

Sierra relied on forward Alysia Atkins for most of its offense in the first three quarters, when she poured in 10 of her team-high 11 points — one off her season high — to go with seven rebounds. She got her points by aggressively attacking the basket.

“That was nice to see from her,” Unterholzner said. “Once she figures out that she can do that on a consistent basis she can be a dangerous player. When we attack the basket good things happen.”

Defense wasn’t the problem, as Sierra forced 27 turnovers.

Ceres did, however, dominate in the post with 6-foot-2 center Jamie Beck and 5-10 wing Jode Johnson. Johnson finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Beck had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

“We couldn’t figure out a way to stop them,” Unterzholzner said. “They scored 31 of their 40 points, so obviously there were some things we could have done better defensively. But overall we did OK.”

The Timberwolves have little time to shake off the defeat, with defending league champion and crosstown rival East Union next tonight. The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 at EU’s Dalben Center.
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