SACRAMENTO — Sierra High’s boys basketball team got beat at its own game in its biggest game of the season.
The Timberwolves were stunted by an ice-cold shooting night, beat decisively on the boards and dealt a 74-52 loss to No. 1 Foothill in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finals Friday at Power Balance Pavilion.
Sierra (27-3) had a program-record 26-game winning streak snapped, while the Mustangs (28-3) stretched theirs to 23 in a row. The championship is Foothill’s fourth in program history, while Sierra fell to 0-2 in title-game appearances.
Sierra converted just 35.7 percent of its field goals (20 of 56), 14.8 percent of 3-pointers (4 of 27) and 42 percent of free throws (8 of 19).
“When you shoot like that who are you going to beat?” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “You’re definitely not going to beat a good team, especially when they get out to a big lead in the first half.”
Foothill used its advantages in speed and athleticism to overcome 6-foot-5 Will Ward and Sierra’s rugged interior play.
Ward picked up three fouls in the first half, the third coming with 5:11 to go.
With Sierra’s top scoring option sidelined, the Mustangs reeled off 11 straight points in the second quarter and sprinted into halftime ahead, 40-18.
Ward was whistled for his fourth foul just 31 seconds into the third quarter, and he fouled out with 3:43 left in the game. The standout center finished with nine points and four rebounds.
Foothill dominated the boards, 45-29, an area Sierra typically owns.
“We talked about winning the rebounding battle and obviously they did,” Thomason said. “Give them a lot of credit. Having Will in foul trouble really hurt us.”
Point guard Guillermo Nunez paced Sierra with 19 points and four assists.
Kelly Bender, Foothill’s crafty lead guard, poured in 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead all players. UC Santa Barbara-bound Michael Bryson added 19 points, eight boards and three blocks; while Douglas James pitched in 16 points and seven rebounds.
The good news for Sierra is that the season isn’t over yet. The Timberwolves hope to make some noise in the CIF’s NorCal Regional tournament, which begins with out-bracket games Monday. The CIF will release brackets on Sunday.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” Thomason said. “I’m disappointed in our play. Our goal right now is to make sure there is no hangover from this going forward. We have to go back to work, because we know our next game is going to be another tough one. We have got to be ready for the challenge.”
To contact Jonamar Jacinto, email email@example.com, or call (209) 249-3538.