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Inside-outside combo anchors Sierra victory
Sierra High sophomore standout Guillermo Nunez soars ahead of Sonora defender Alex Kiriluk in Valley Oak League action Wednesday. For additional photos, visit . - photo by Photo by CHRIS LEONARD
Sierra High boys varsity basketball coach Scott Thomason knows his squad’s style of play.

“We’re a grind-it-out team,” he said after his Timberwolves took care of visiting Sonora Wednesday in the Valley Oak League opener, 58-45.

Sierra (1-0, 10-3) did most of the damage behind the one-two punch consisting of Will Ward and Guillermo Nunez.

The Timberwolves often fed the ball inside to Ward, who used his sturdy 6-foot-5 frame to pound the ball inside against the Wildcat big men led by 6-6 junior center Mark Relei.

“It was difficult for us to stop Will,” said Sonora coach Rick Francis.

He tried double- and triple- teaming the Sierra junior center on defense. Ward, in most cases, pushed the ball outside to an open teammate.

The beneficiary was sophomore guard Nunez, who had a game-high 26 points. Defensively, he came through with four steals.

Sonora (0-1, 5-7) got Relei involved in the offense early on. He delivered on a pair of buckets while Alex Kiriluk connected on a 3-point bomb.

Down 7-2, the Timberwolves battled back on Edy Guzman’s trey and Ward’s basket from close range.

The game was halted temporarily when Sonora guard Nate Lafontaine was injured after falling awkwardly head first. He received medical attention and was able to get up under his own power onto a stretcher with the emergency crew.

Lafontaine was taken to the hospital for observation and appeared OK, according to his coach
“We’ll see Nate after the game,” Francis said.

As for the game, Bryce Hicks and Nunez scored on steals to put the Timberwolves ahead early in the second period. But Sonora kept it close behind the efforts of Brent Mantzouranis, Ricky Howard, Ben Bates and Kiriluk.

Sierra went ahead for good shortly before halftime on Nunez’s trey from over 20 feet out.

“Guillermo took the game over (in the third period),” Thomason said.
He opened the second half with a trey, delivered on several driving layups, and even dropped in a fall-away shot.

The grind-it-out Timberwolves led 38-30 advantage entering the fourth period. Sonora made it close, pulling to within five early on.

Sierra answered back on a pair of 3s by Eddie Andrade and free throws by Nunez and Guzman.

Ward finished with 16 points, eight boards, four assists and three steals. Andrade had nine points and four rebounds.

Mantzouranis was the Wildcats’ top scorer with 11 points.

The Timberwolves will travel to East Union on Friday.