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Cougars future uncertain after upset loss
East Union guard Ricky Inderbitzin pulls up for a jumper Wednesday against host Oakdale. Oakdale won 45-33.
CERES — The playoffs seemed a certainty for Weston Ranch as recently as a week ago, but thanks to a shocking 47-40 loss to Ceres Wednesday night, it now appears that the Cougars will need a little help to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III postseason.

Derrick Sykes and Ronnie Collins both scored nine for the Cougars Wednesday as Weston Ranch was sluggish from the tip and couldn’t find its flow throughout.

“We didn’t come out with any energy or excitement,” Cougars head coach Ryan Bono said. “I told them before the game that Ceres had nothing to lose and because of that, they were our most dangerous opponent of the year.”

The Bulldogs proved Bono right as Ceres hit a number of tough shots and sat back in a zone that gave the Cougars fits.

“Their bigs played tough inside,” Bono said. “We weren’t able to get any good looks.”

With the loss, Weston Ranch (8-6 VOL, 13-12) must now beat Sierra on the road Friday to close out the VOL campaign and hope that Hogan of Vallejo slips up in its season finale versus Vallejo High.
Sierra defeated Weston Ranch, 61-36, on Jan. 23. Vallejo (19-6) beat Hogan, 73-64, on Jan. 30.

“We still have an outside chance of getting in,” Bono said. “But we have to get a win against Sierra.”

Sierra 45, Central Valley 39
Trevor Mew hit seven 3-pointers and six in the second half, but it wouldn’t be enough as Sierra overcame a tough shooting night to collect the win.

Christian Williams paced the Timberwolves with 23 points and Tyler Willis added eight.

Chris Choate and Trevor Nogueira both had six.

“Trevor had probably his worst shooting night of the season,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “We had to grind out a win.”

The T’Wolves led by as many as 12 in the second half, but Mew’s second-half hot-streak pulled the Hawks to within one in the waning moments.

Williams hit a clutch 3-pointer and followed it up with a pair of free-throws down the stretch to close it out.

Sierra shot 13 of 14 from the free throw line and 8 of 9 in the fourth.

Mew finished with 21.

With a win over Weston Ranch Friday, Sierra would eclipse the 20-win mark for the fourth time in five seasons, a big-time accomplishment for any public school.

“We still have some things we need to correct,” Thomason said. “Weston Ranch will be a good test. They’re going to play with a sense of urgency.

“We need to establish home court heading into the playoffs.”

Sierra (11-2 VOL, 19-6) is currently sitting at No. 5 in the SJS D-III power ratings and still has an opportunity to move up depending on how things shake out with the top four seeds.

Oakdale 45, East Union 33
Tyler Bylow missed the contest with an illness and the Lancers couldn’t get anything going in the loss.

Larry Molina finished with eight and Ricky Inderbitzin had six.

East Union turned the ball over 19 times, grabbed just 13 rebounds, and shot 3 of 13 from the free throw line.

The Lancers close the season Friday night at home when Manteca comes calling.

— Brandon Petersen