Sonora point guard Kelli Keefe wears No. 3 for good reason.
Keefe drained eight consecutive 3-pointers to finish with 29 points Tuesday night in a 67-45 Valley Oak League-opening win over Sierra on the Timberwolves’ home floor.
Wildcat wing Tori Selesia (15 points) was also the benefactor of an effective inside-out game spearheaded by 6-foot, 2-inch center Raven Anderson.
Defensively, the Wildcats were smothering. A second-quarter press led to a number of Sierra turnovers and Keefe went nuts on the other end, finishing the quarter with 15 points and extending a slim three-point margin after one to a 36-22 drubbing heading into the locker room.
“We ran our plays this game and it worked out,” Keefe said. “The posts kicked the ball out more often than they usually do. I may have had the points, but it was a team effort. Everybody was working the ball.”
Selesia’s steal turned breakaway layup at the five-minute mark of the third made it 46-26, Sonora.
After Keefe hit her eighth 3-pointer two minutes later, the Wildcats were up 26.
“We knew coming in that they were a good outside shooting squad,” Sierra assistant coach Johnny Aguilar said. “(Keefe) was phenomenal tonight.
“(In the) first quarter we did a good job. We were only down by three, but then (Keefe) ended up getting 15 in the second quarter. She was just on fire. It was a combination of things: turnovers off (their) press, (Keefe) getting hot, and that was the difference.”
While Ariel McIntyre (six points) was hampered with two quick fouls and was forced to the bench quickly, Heather Scharmann shined on the offensive end, rarely missing a layup and draining 4 of 6 free throws for 20 points.
“Heather’s a bright spot. She’s been a real bright spot,” Aguilar said. “Ariel started off the game well, we actually had the lead. But she picked up her second foul, went to the bench. Another turning point.
“I thought turnovers killed us as well.”
Sierra slipped to 5-5 overall and will host Ceres Thursday.
Sonora (1-0, 6-6 overall) faces another key matchup Thursday when East Union pays a visit to the foothills.
“This was huge,” Keefe said. “Half of our girls are either moving, getting hurt, or just quitting the team. We don’t all get along, so this really helps a lot with team chemistry. Getting our first win was huge, and now we have East Union next.
“That will be another big one.”