•Sierra student cheer section largest in years
•Two rooter buses will make trip to Moraga today
•Spirit wear sales up; $600 in sales in last month alone
•T’wolves, coach chasing another historic victory
They came two-by-two, streaming down the aisles at Sleep Train Arena, filling in the seats behind the home basket.
They stood. They heckled. They cheered until they were blue in the face.
The Sierra High boys basketball team’s intensity and commitment to school is matched by its cheer section, which travels with all the essentials: signs and cardboard cut-outs of their favorite players, noise makers and blue everything.
The Wolf Pack rocked Sleep Train Arena for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game and there’s hope they’ll shake the hills above the East Bay tonight.
The Timberwolves visit Campolindo High in Moraga for a Northern California Division III regional semifinal.
The stakes are crystal clear: the winning team will get the chance to play for a state finals appearance. The loser cleans out their locker.
For Sierra, history has followed them at every turn in the postseason. Not only will a victory tonight clinch the school’s first-ever regional finals appearance, but it will be No. 300 for head coach Scott Thomason.
“We’ve never gotten to this point, so we’re kind of green when it comes to experience,” athletic director Anthony Chapman said. “But you name it and it’s on the list: Valley Oak League champions, a 30-win season, section champions, Scott sitting at 299 wins. It’s special and we’re trying to enjoy it.
“At the same time, it’s been stressful just trying to get everything together. It all happens so quickly. But it’s a good stress; I’ll take this stress every day of the week.”
The Timberwolves plan to arrive at Campolindo High in force tonight, despite a busy spring sports calendar that includes swimming, tennis, softball and baseball.
Two rooter buses have been scheduled for the Wolf Pack, Sierra’s loud and well-choreographed student cheer section. The Wolf Pack is one of the largest in school history, said activities director Justin Minteer.
Sierra arrived with approximately 200 students, including its band and cheerleaders, for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III final at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Chapman said the band, which spent spring break touring and playing in Hawaii, will not make trip, but the cheerleaders will.
The school will also hold a lunchtime pep rally today.
“We pride ourselves as a school in being a family and supporting each other,” Chapman said. “… Whether it revolves around football, basketball, swimming or golf, that’s who we are.”
Minteer said more and more students are purchasing and wearing Sierra sweatshirts, beanies and socks to school and games. The receipt book showed approximately $600 in sales in the last month alone.
The basketball team has taken notice.
As the final seconds ticked off a 67-51 victory over Weston Ranch in the section final, Thomason and several players pointed to the Sierra crowd.
There, they saw students and staff waving signs and bouncing in their seats. About 50 percent of Sierra’s staff made the hour-plus trip to north Sacramento to cheer the program onto its first-ever section championship.
“It’s been pretty awesome to get all these people to rally around our team,” Thomason said. “We feel our team resembles what our school is all about – hard work, character and great relationships.
“We play for the school and the name on the front of our jerseys. We’ve got a great campus community and great support. Our fans have been great all year and I expect them to travel to Campolindo and show up big and have a lot of spirit.”
Sierra’s success has sent shockwaves rippling throughout the community, uniting a region striped with battle lines.
Chapman has received congratulatory text messages from other athletic directors, while rival basketball coaches have expressed their support for Thomason and Sierra.
The Timberwolves have a school-record 30 wins and have never played this late into the season. Their success has put the City of Manteca and the Valley Oak League in the state spotlight.
“I had a conversation the other day about the VOL gaining respect,” Chapman said. The VOL secured three of the four semifinal berths in the section’s D3 playoffs. Manteca High and Weston Ranch joined Sierra at Cosumnes River College. Like Sierra, Weston Ranch hosted a NorCal first-round game.
“We know we have a tough league, but it’s nice to see people in Sacramento and the Bay Area make mention of us online,” he added. “It’s been a collective effort and we’re fortunate enough to lead that group this year.”
To that end, Thomason hopes to see more than blue-bodied fans in the visitor’s section. He wants the City of Manteca to jump on the bandwagon.
“We hope the community and town rallies around this team,” he said. “This is a chance to watch them again. To me, this is the best team to come out of Manteca and here’s an opportunity to come and see them.”
To contact Managing Editor James Burns email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at jburns1980.