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THRILLER AT THE RANCH

Sierra holds off Cougars in overtime in first-place battle

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THRILLER AT THE RANCH

Sierra’s Jonnythan Munkholm, left, celebrates with a teammate during a first-half timeout during Friday’s Valley Oak League showdown at Weston Ranch.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED January 26, 2013 2:35 a.m.

WESTON RANCH — The big-time players were making big-time shots, but the difference for Sierra in Friday’s marquee matchup against Weston Ranch was the clutch play of its role players.

Emmanuel Elijah scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime while coming up with two key steals in the extra period to help lift the Timberwolves to a 73-68 victory. The win is the 13th straight for Sierra (9-0, 19-3 overall), which now owns sole possession of the top spot in the Valley Oak League.

Guillermo Nunez poured in 24 points while draining four 3s to pace Sierra. Dylan Alexander led all scorers with 26 points to go with six steals.

“It took that extra effort,” said Elijah, a 5-foot-10 guard who led Sierra with nine rebounds. “In the end they had all the momentum, but we weren’t going to back down because we knew this was our game. We just kept fighting and fighting.”

But for the better part of regulation, it was Weston Ranch (8-1, 14-7) that was scrapping just to stay in the game. The Cougars were down 41-33 after three quarters and trailed by as much as 12 late in the second period.

Eric Duncan, after being limited to just a single point in the first half, was instrumental in the Ranch’s comeback charge. He finished with 14 points and five steals, but his shining moment was a game-tying 3-pointer from the right wing with 1 second remaining in regulation, making it 57-57. Duncan, however, struggled to stay in the game after that, as he was hampered by a sore back.

“We wanted to make sure we contained penetration, (because Duncan) has the ability to drive and shoot the ball,” Thomason said. “But for the most part I thought we did a nice job on him.

“When he hit that shot they had the momentum on their court,” Thomason added. “We could have laid down and fatigue could have set in, but our guys kept making plays in overtime and kept on grinding.”

Weston Ranch took its only lead of the game, 60-59, at the 2:58 mark of overtime when Justin Lassiter sank one of two free throws.

Sierra pulled away for good after Eric Melgar’s 3-pointer gave it a 65-62 and started a 9-2 run. The compact point guard ended up with 18 points and six assists. D’Ari Allen added eight points and seven boards, and Bryson Sanders (8 points) was key off the bench.

Daiveon Leverrett had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Weston Ranch.

“Good road win, but just another game for us,” Thomason said. “Our biggest game of the season is Wednesday when we go to Sonora and we’re going to prepare like it is. We have a long ways to go. This can’t be the biggest moment of our season.”

Sophomore

Sierra 49, Weston Ranch 48

Josh Patton’s put-back off of a missed 3-pointer put the Timberwolves up for good with 1.1 seconds remaining. Hunter Johnson fired 20 points for Sierra, and Jordan Thompson added 12.

Jalen Ragsdale paced Weston Ranch with 14, while Jordan Tavga and Jordan Hollins chipped in 12 each.

Freshman

Sierra 45, Weston Ranch 43

The Timberwolves (9-0, 17-0) kept their perfect record intact but had to hold off a strong second-half charge from Weston Ranch, which trailed 21-6 at halftime.

Jess Spivey led a balanced scoring effort with 11 points. Daniel Wyatt and Tanner Peterson contributed 10 apiece. Charles Udeze poured in 16 for Weston Ranch, with 11 more coming from Steven Buenrostro.

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