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Return of the DWolves: Sierra holds Beyer to 30
Serge Veretennikov works hard on the defensive end Friday night in the T’Wolves’ 62-30 drubbing of Beyer at Sierra High. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN
Sierra High head coach Scott Thomason was sporting an ear-to-ear grin following the T’Wolves’ home tilt against Beyer Friday night, and for good reason.
Over the years, Thomason has built the basketball program at Sierra around defense, but in their first seven contests of the season, the T’Wolves have allowed 60 points per game.
Friday night, the defense was back and it was smothering as Sierra cruised past the Patriots, 62-30.
“Defensively, obviously, we’ve been having a hard time lately,” Thomason said. “We made some adjustments and it was good to hold them to 30 points today.
“Their focal point was their big guy (Bryan Garbez). He’s a good player, we wanted to swarm him a little bit, and I thought our guys did a good job doubling up, and making him make tough shots. That was the key.”
And it worked to a charm, Garbez scored a harmless 16 as Beyer trailed from wire to wire.
Tyler Willis and Serge Veretennikov both scored 11 points to complement Christian Williams’ 22, but, alongside Chris Choate, it was the big mens’ contributions in the defensive paint that trumped all of Sierra’s many successes Friday night.
“I think it’s a great thing for our team (to get a big win), it should build our confidence,” Choate said. “It’s a building block. We’re taking steps in the right direction. If we lose, it’s a learning experience, if we win, we’re also learning.
“It’s like a puzzle. Every building block is a piece in that puzzle. Hopefully by the end, the picture will be pretty.”
Not often are defensive-minded teams considered “pretty” in the basketball world, in fact, conventional wisdom would hold the exact opposite.
But the fact remains, defense wins basketball games, and Sierra’s reputation as a perennial playoff contender backs up that notion.
It took Beyer more than four minutes to score its first bucket Friday. By that time the Patriots already trailed 12-0.
Choate (8 points) found himself wide open behind the arc in the opening moments and drained a pair of 3-pointers to spark the troops and set the blowout in motion.
“The past two games, I’ve kind of had a bad start,” Choate said. “Coach told me just to get out of that. It was wide open, and what are you going to do when it’s wide open?”
Said Thomason: “Choate hit two three’s, I thought he did a great job. The last couple of games, he hasn’t been playing well, so we wanted him to get off to a great start today. He had great energy, made a couple of baskets, got his confidence going, and I think the team kind of fed off of that.”
And then some.
While Choate provided the first six points, Williams poured in the next six on a layup, a free throw and his own rainbow three from the left elbow.
“Christian Williams (4 assists) does a lot of great things for us,” Thomason said.
The T’Wolves (4-4 overall) took a 33-16 lead into the break and extended to 48-25 at the end of three.
When Thomason cleared the pine in the fourth, there was no drop off.
Robert Plunk scored a bucket and both John Lenoci and Midge Nasir drained 3-pointers.
Veretennikov had perhaps his best outing of the season, collecting three steals and dishing out a pair of assists.
“Serge played probably one of his better games,” Thomason said. “We got rebounds and steals, Serge and those guys got out and ran a little bit. For a four or five minute stretch in the first half, it was really fun to watch us play. If somehow we could sustain that for 32 minutes, we’d be pretty good.”
Sierra hosts Modesto Tuesday night.

Bear Creek 46, East Union 38
The Lancers struggled out of the gate Friday night, scoring just 11 first-half points, and despite the fact that they outscored the Bruins in the second half, 27-21, the hole they dug early on was too deep to climb out of.
Tyler Bylow scored 11 points on three 3-pointers, T.J. Brown had nine, and Marshall Swift added eight.
East Union (0-8 overall) heads to the Bear Creek tournament Dec. 27.

Central Catholic 66, Ripon Christian 55
At the Victory Christian Tournament, the Raiders claimed their revenge, knocking off RC, the first team to hand Central Catholic a loss this season.
Tyler Goslinga finished with 10, as did Will Heersink.
Arie Den Dulk led the way with 15.
“David (Vander Schaaf) and Tyler both had three fouls in the second quarter,” RC head coach Ron Vander Molen said.
Dan Holst paced CC with 20.
RC plays for third place today at 2 p.m.