STOCKTON — The Sierra High Timberwolves saw their 23-point, second-half lead dwindle down to a single point in the final seconds against Chavez Thursday.
They held on for a 58-55 victory in second-round action of the McDonald’s Boys Basketball Classic at Edison.
Games were played at Edison due to Delta College campus being closed due to the storm conditions.
Sierra (3-0) will return to Delta’s Joe Blanchard Gym today at 6:30 p.m. to play the winner of Buchanan-Bear Creek winner in the semifinals.
Timberwolves coach Scott Thomason, for one, would like to see his team finish strong after back-to-back close calls.
“We need to have that killer instinct,” he said following the win over the Titans (3-2). “But give Chavez credit — that’s a good team.”
Down 54-38, the Titans climbed back in the game by orchestrating a 15-2 run. Justice Harris, Tommy Williams and Tomiwa Ologundudu hit 3s before Lewis Hayes caught fire.
The 6-5 senior converted a three-point play, nailed a corner 3, and hit a jumper at the 1:14 mark in the fourth quarter to make it a one-point deficit, 56-55.
Chavez got the ball back with 35.8 left, milking the clock for one last shot.
But then Joshua Patton came up with a big blocked shot — his fifth for the game — that resulted in a turnover in the final three seconds.
“It was a huge block,” he said. “(Chavez) came to play.”
Devin Nunez hit a pair of free throws to close out the game.
Through three quarters, Sierra dominated all facets of the game.
“We were scrapping and competing every shot (on defense). We rebounded and showed that we can be a real good team — we just have to play that way for 32 minutes,” said Thomason.
Hunter Johnson, who hit for a game-high 28 points, had his way with the Titans’ bigs of Lewis and 6-9 junior Anthony Booker.
“Post play is an important part of our game,” he said.
Johnson also drilled a 3 while scoring eight straight at one point in the second quarter.
With point guard Daniel Wyatt running the offense, Sierra put together a 15-0 run in the third. Jess Spivey hit a pair of corner treys and Patton, who got an assist when spotted Johnson cutting to the hoop, completed a three-point play.
The Timberwolves led 49-26 and appeared in control at that point.
“We need to do a better job closing out games. We need to give it 110 percent effort,” said Patton.