The Valley Oak League finale Thursday between Sierra and host Weston Ranch came down to the proper executing of the little things.
That slight margin was just enough for the Timberwolves to squeak by with a 50-49 victory.
"This entire season we've talked about being discipline and doing the little things right," said Sierra coach Rashonne Founts, who will play the waiting game in terms of playoff hopes.
The Timberwolves (4-8 VOL, 15-12 overall) came into the game No. 13 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III MaxPreps rankings and need to finish in the top 15 to earn an at-large berth. They’re banking on their strength of schedule for a post-season berth.
On the other hand, the Cougars (2-10, 11-15) have but an outside chance of seeing their schedule extended.
Weston Ranch coach Mike Williams was especially proud of the way his team battled back throughout the Senior Night contest. Honored prior to tipoff were Dearri Ross, Ashanti Boatman, Julianna Lassiter, Jennalyn Laminero, Darnaysha Huff, Zahbria Hendrix and Jazlyn White.
Laminero and Ross, from there, led the way by tallying 18 and 17 points, respectively.
"Jen's play was special. She was hurt and came in sick but still made all the right plays," Williams said of Laminero, who also had five steals and a block while directing the offense.
Weston Ranch trailed through most of the game but managed to claw back, putting together an 11-2 run to open the second half while tying the game at 32-32 midway through the third.
Sierra had the early momentum as Brianna Parker came out on fire, drilling a 3 to open the game and scoring eight of her 15 points in the first quarter.
Natalie Dias scored on a putback and Ness Villanueva also delivered a trey, propelling the Timberwolves to a 17-6 advantage.
Ross, Huff and Laminero answered back in the second quarter, closing the Cougars' deficit, 21-16.
Right before the intermission, the Timberwolves' Parker buried yet another 3 to keep her team on top, 30-21.
The third quarter momentum favored Weston Ranch.
Laminero not only hit a 3 but also completed an and-one three-point play. She then pulled up and from the elbow only to pass the ball to a wide open Huff, who tied the game at 32-32.
From there, the game seesawed. Sierra managed to reclaim the advantage, taking a 37-36 edge into the final period.
The Cougars kept to within striking distance in the fourth.
Ross had a steal down the stretch, hitting Laminero as Weston Ranch closed the gap, 48-46.
After Marci Chaparro sank a pair of free throws to give Sierra a four-point cushion going into the final minute, the Cougars struck back quickly on a lay-up by Laminero.
She later hit a free throw to make it a one-point deficit.
Weston Ranch had a chance to win it but that final shot from close range missed its mark as time ran out,
"Weston Ranch fought to the end," said Founts, who was able to breathe a sigh of relief in the aftermath.
She praised her team's effort on the boards.
Dias and Villanueva both had nine rebounds. Dias, in addition, finished with 10 points and two steals.
Chaparro added nine while Villanueva chipped in with eight points.