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Sierra dominates shorthanded EU; VOL title in sight
Sierras Hunter Johnson (23) presures East Unions Cody Keener (22) in the first half during Fridays varsity game as Sierra hosted crosstown rival East Union High. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Garbage time does not apply to Sierra’s boys basketball team.

The reserves pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter Friday after the starters nearly pulled off the same feat in the first, and the Timberwolves thumped visiting rival East Union 71-29 to cap off an impressive week in Valley Oak League action.

“We’re trying to play for 32 minutes no matter who is in there,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said.

Sierra (11-0 VOL, 22-2 overall) started the week Wednesday with a commanding 69-51 victory at playoff hopeful Central Catholic. The dominant play continued Friday when the Timberwolves scored the first 23 points of the game. Back-up point guard Ogun Delaney punctuated the staggering run with a 3-pointer. Gyse Hulsebosch, who led the Lancers (0-11, 6-18) with 13 points and five rebounds, ended East Union’s drought with two free throws with 26.1 seconds remaining.

“We wanted to jump out in the first quarter and obviously we did that,” Thomason said. “Defensive effort was very good, we got every rebound. I thought we played hard tonight and we competed. It’s nice to see everyone get involved.”

Ten of Sierra’s 14 players scored. Hunter Johnson finished with 14 points, while Joshua Patton added 13 to go with 18 rebounds and two blocks despite sitting out the entire fourth period.

Devin Nunez pitched in 10 points and four assists, and Daniel Wyatt had eight points, six assists and four steals. Alex Barnett was among the substitutes to join in on the fun. He was one of six different Timberwolves to make a 3-pointer and ended up with five points.

“Every time we come off the bench we’re ready to play,” he said. “We just enjoy playing. We run a great system so it’s easy to come off the bench and contribute.”

Sierra outrebounded the Lancers 46-14, and by halftime Patton himself pulled down 11 boards to East Union’s nine. East Union was minus two starting forwards Friday. Cody Keener did what he could, finishing with seven points and six rebounds.

“Sierra is a very good team,” East Union coach Ryan Tarr said. “They scored inside and outside. We battled, we fought, we’re just undersized and undermanned.”

The Lancers have lost 13 straight and it doesn’t get much easier to end the season with games against Weston Ranch, Manteca and Central Catholic ahead. Sierra, Manteca and Weston Ranch have already clinched Sac-Joaquin Section playoff spots, and Central Catholic is in line to qualify with an at-large bid in Division IV.

Sierra, meanwhile, can clinch at least a share of a second straight league title next Wednesday at Manteca, which trails the Timberwolves by a game. They then take on Weston Ranch on the road before wrapping up regular-season play back home against Lathrop on Feb. 17.

Although Sierra remains unbeaten at The Den, Thomason had hoped to see a better all-around effort after winning its last three games there by single-digit margins.

“We haven’t been playing very good at home our last few games, so we wanted to establish our home court no matter who we’re playing against,” Thomason said. “We want to come out and be dominant, make this a tough place for teams to play.”


Sierra 57, East Union 45

Jamille Grady buried four 3s and spearheaded Sierra’s balanced scoring effort with 16 points.

Bikram Thiara added 11 points, and Victor Elijah had 10. P.J. Gill poured in 20 points, all coming in the final three quarters, for East Union.


East Union 59, Sierra 40

Andrew Sena pumped in 22 points to go with six steals, while Grant Silva and Blake Greenlee (12 rebounds) scored 11 points apiece in the East Union win.

J.T. Ortiz-Martinez led Sierra with 13 points.