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T’wolves break it open in 2nd half of VOL opener

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POSTED January 4, 2018 1:15 a.m.

Defense, rebounding and scoring balance has long been the recipe for success for the Sierra boys basketball team, and the Timberwolves put all three phases together Wednesday in their Valley Oak League opener at East Union’s Dalben Center.

They had an overwhelming 43-22 advantage on the boards and held East Union to a single field goal in the first 11 minutes-plus minutes in the second half en route to a 68-51 win. Sierra (1-0, 6-8 overall) scored 17 unanswered points and led by as much as 30, 59-29, early in the fourth quarter before sitting the starters.

John Elijah muscled his way to 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jaedon Malone pulled down 20 boards to go with nine points. Malone’s buzzer-beating put-back gave Sierra a 30-24 halftime lead, and it was all Timberwolves from there.

“When we came into the locker room coach got on us and said this is not Sierra basketball,” Sierra point guard Jaime Ochoa said. “I told my guys, ‘Let’s go. It’s a cross-town rivalry, it’s the first game of the (VOL) season and one of these teams is going to be in first place.’ We had to get it going and followed through.”

The third-year varsity starter had his own way of making an impact for the Timberwolves, dishing out six of his seven assists in the second half and scoring 11 points. He was also a pest on the defensive end as East Union turned it over on its first three possessions of the third period.

“In our last game against Tokay he had 10 assists and no turnovers,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said of Ochoa. “That’s being efficient and that’s what we want from him. If the shot’s open, he’ll take it, and if he’s attacking he can make it himself or create for someone else. He’s dangerous with his passing, getting people involved and getting us in our sets. I thought he did a very good job tonight.”

Sierra’s underclassmen also had big moments. Ochoa found freshman forward Ryan Borgerson (six points) for a corner 3-pointer early in the third period, giving the T’wolves their first double-digit lead at 35-24. Sophomore reserve Kendrick Currey was also the beneficiary of Ochoa passes, finishing with 11 points before fouling out.

“I knew these young guys had talent from the summer and I had to bring them under my wing outside of the basketball,” Ochoa said. “I just trust my teammates when the shot is there for them.”

Drew Sena did all he could to keep East Union (0-1, 3-10) in the fight, firing a game-high 28 points. He accounted for the Lancers’ first 12 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the absence of senior Blake Greenlee (ankle).

“We did not only miss (Greenlee’s) scoring, but he would have helped out with that rebounding disparity,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “He helps draw the attention of the defense. Not having him definitely had a huge impact on the game.”

It also forced sophomore Christian Cuevas, a transfer from Weston Ranch, to pick up the slack in his debut for East Union. He contributed 12 points and three steals. 

“He filled in nicely,” Tarr said. “He has a lot of confidence on offense and was able to create some shots on his own. Hopefully that can give us another option on offense and he can continue to improve. He sat for the preseason and he did not show any rust.”



East Union 50, Sierra 44

Marcus Sequeira scored 19 points, while Nathaniel Saucedo and Park Khattra chipped in nine and eight, respectively, for the Lancers.

The Timberwolves’ were paced by Deshon Thomas’ 12 points and Isaiah Sanchez’s nine.

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