STOCKTON — John Elijah grabbed three offensive rebounds in the final 2 minutes to go with a pair of made free throws and a steal to help Sierra salvage a 61-53 opening-round win over Chavez in the McDonald’s Classic at Weston Ranch High.
“I was struggling offensively,” said Elijah, who had seven points, nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block. “I just tried to do whatever it took to get that win. We had to grind that win out.
“Chavez is a good team over there but I guess we just wanted it more at the end of the day.”
Ryan Borgeson (eight points, three assists) scored five consecutive points in less than 30 seconds late in the third quarter as part of an 11-3 run that turned a 34-31 deficit to a 42-27 lead that Sierra would not relinquish.
The Titans (2-4) went toe to toe with the Timberwolves (5-0) to start the fourth quarter, coming within 51-49 with 3:31 remaining in the game before Sierra closed things out on an 11-4 run.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Chavez,” Timberwolves coach Scott Thomason said. “They played a really good game today.
“I thought Eduardo Jasso brought some great minutes for us, passing, scoring and being a playmaker. I thought Kendrick Currey did a nice job taking care of the ball and attacking. Carl Rice hit that big 3 and Jaeden (Malone) and John (Elijah) were getting some big put-backs in the fourth quarter.”
Jasso had six points and Rice finished with 11 points and it was his 3-pointer that ignited the fourth-quarter spurt for Sierra.
Malone led Sierra with 14 points and had a double-double with 11 rebounds.
“Coach is telling us to rebound the ball more,” Malone said. “That was the game plan for us and I executed it.”
The Timberwolves came out on fire, starting the game on a 12-0 run and holding Chavez scoreless for more than 4 minutes.
“The first 4 minutes of the first quarter was great basketball,” Thomason said. “We wanted to jump on them. We were well prepared and they were well prepared. We started the first quarter with tenacity, getting rebounds, sharing the ball and attacking. It was great basketball to watch and then we don’t get that killer instinct.
“But then we couldn’t make shots or defend the ball. Guys were going around us. They are a good-shooting team and started to hit some shots and get into a rhythm.”
The Titans’ Dailen Victor led all scorers with 16 points.
Sierra plays the winner of Brookside Christian, a 79-51 winner over West, in second-round action tonight starting 6:30 at Edison High.