SONORA — Turns out it wasn’t a fluke the first time around, though Sierra High’s boys basketball team had to work a little harder to beat Golden Valley of Merced this time around.
In the second of three round-robin games at the Robert Dominik Fuchs Memorial Holiday Classic at Columbia College Monday, Sierra dished out Golden Valley’s second loss of the season , 60-59.
Christian Williams gave the Timberwolves (7-4), who have won seven of their last eight, the final lead with two free throws with six seconds remaining.
Sharpshooting guard Alex Fletcher tried to draw contact while attempting a mid-range shot in the closing seconds. The Cougars, fresh off their championship run in the 16-team Tracy Winter Holiday Hoops Classic, falls to 11-2.
Earlier in preseason play, Sierra thumped the Cougars 67-51 at home Dec. 10.
“They came out and gave us their best basketball,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “They have a great program that we’ve beaten twice now, and we feel we’re one of the best teams around, too.
“If we didn’t get off to a bad start (to the season), we’d be on a nine- or 10-game winning streak. We’ll play anyone; we respect everybody we play but fear nobody”
The Timberwolves were in control through three quarters of play, taking a seven-point lead heading into the fourth.
But Golden Valley’s full-court press harrassed Sierra into turnovers, and missed free throws allowed the Cougars to close in.
John Sykes, the Cougars’ talented 6-foot-5 guard, hit the first of two free throws with 12 seconds left to push his team ahead.
Williams, who led all scorers with 23 points, grabbed the defensive rebound off the miss and was fouled while pushing it upcourt, setting up his game-winning free throws.
Trevor Nogueira tossed in five 3-pointers for his 15 points to aid Sierra’s cause. Center Chris Choate added 11 points.
Sykes paced Golden Valley with 18, while Donte Scott finished with 15.
Sierra faces Downey (5-7) for the championship today at 10:30 a.m.
East Union 50, Bear Creek 39
The Lancers shook off a slow start to beat the tournament host for their first win of the season.
Tyler Bylow pumped in 15 points to lead East Union (1-9). Ricky Inderbitzin contributed 12, and Mel Wilts turned in 10.
East Union took a 22-20 lead into halftime before breaking it open with an 18-7 run in the third period.
“The thing I’m most pleased with is that during the course of the game we took care of the ball,” East Union coach Eric Simoni said. “Our defense got much better as well — we held them to single-digit scoring in the second and third quarters.”
The Lancers will tussle for the consolation title against Heritage of Brentwood today at 4:30 p.m.
WEST COAST JAMBOREE
Fortuna 42, Ripon 33
Despite keeping it close for the majority of the game, the Ripon varsity girls just couldn’t get their foothold in a slim loss to Fortuna at the West Coast Jamboree in Brentwood — falling 42 to 33.
Led by Jessica Blythe’s nine points, the Indians managed to keep up with Fortuna through the first half, but an unfavorable free throw percentage took its toll.
“It was close the majority of the game, and in the third quarter we managed to get within four points, but we missed a lot of free throws,” Ripon head coach George Contente said. “They were a good team an we competed with them, but we just couldn’t get close enough.
“We made ‘em work hard.”
Sky Dominguez contributed eight points for Ripon, while Paulina Ceja chipped in seven.