LOOMIS — Leading scorer Aaron Hendricks was out for Wednesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III postseason opener against No. 14 Sierra, but No. 3 Del Oro still had little trouble in advancing with a 69-39 victory.
Del Oro next hosts sixth-seeded Center, which edged out No. 11 Pioneer, 60-58, in Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Hendricks averages 18.4 points per game, and with him out 6-foot-3 Spencer Butterfield handled the scoring load for the Golden Eagles (19-8).
Butterfield finished with 23 points to lead all scorers, and Del Oro’s stifling defense gave Sierra (18-10) fits over the final three quarters.
Del Oro took full control in the third when it outscored the visitors, 20-9. Sierra couldn’t recover and fell further behind in the fourth when it was staggered by an 18-8 run.
“We had a two-point lead midway through the second quarter then we just fell apart,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “We played terrible in the third quarter, fell out of sync and had a hard time of getting back into the game.
“Del Oro did a good job of pressuring us.”
The Timberwolves handled the pressure well early and went into the second quarter tied at 15.
But they went cold the rest of the way out, converting just 6 of 14 free throws and 5 of 20 from 3-point range.
Sophomore forward Will Ward led Sierra with 15 points, while Eddie Andrade nailed four 3-pointers for his 12 points. Senior Trevor Nogueira, the Timberwolves’ top shooter all season, struggled to find a groove and finished with three points.
“When you shoot the ball the way we did it’s hard to win on the road against a good team like Del Oro,” Thomason said.