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Williams leads Sierra to 20th win on Senior Night
Weston Ranch’s Patrick Phillips gets in position to collect a rebound. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Sierra High won its 20th game of the season Friday night, a 57-38 handling of Weston Ranch at home.

The 20-win mark is a tough milestone to reach for any public high school basketball program, but the Timberwolves have now accomplished the task in four out of the last five seasons.

Christian Williams, the odds-on favorite to capture the Valley Oak League Most Valuable Player award, was introduced during Senior Night festivities as the best basketball player to ever dawn the silver and blue.

Not so surprisingly, Williams did nothing to dissuade that notion, as he scored 15 of his game-high 21 in the first eight minutes, hitting three 3-pointers and leading Sierra to a commanding 18-5 lead.

“Christian Williams is the real deal,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “It’s a no-brainer for me — he’s the MVP of the league.

“I don’t think there’s any question.”

But Williams was hardly alone Friday night.

After what Thomason described as his worst shooting night of the season in a close win at Central Valley Wednesday, Trevor Nogueira was back to his old self, hitting five treys to finish with 15.

Four of the five Nogueira 3-pointers came off assists from Serge Veretennikov, who spent most of his Senior Night playing with the frenetic energy that the Sierra faithful have grown accustomed to.

Meanwhile, after a tough first quarter, Weston Ranch bounced back in the second behind seven from Nate Moises to pull within six at 28-22 heading into the break.

Moises paced the Cougars (8-6 VOL, 13-13) with 12 and Jason Steele added seven, but Sierra was able to  shut down Ronnie Collins, and Weston Ranch managed just 16 second-half points.

“We played well the second, third and fourth quarters, but we couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “If we’re lucky enough, we look forward to coming back on Monday and going back to work.”

Williams hit his fourth triple with 1:50 left in the third quarter to make it 41-27, Sierra.

Much of the fourth was a formality.

“I didn’t want to lose on my Senior Night,” Williams said. “They beat us last year (in the last VOL game), and coach got me pumped before the game.”

Williams was asked what it would take for his squad to get to Arco Arena.

“Togetherness, teamwork and playing for 32 minutes,” he answered.

Then asked if he’s played his best basketball of the season, Williams grinned from ear to ear and offered a bit of a warning to the rest of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III tournament field.

“There’s a lot more Christian Williams out there; we’re going to go try and find him,” he answered.

Sierra (12-2 VOL, 20-6) is currently rated No. 5 in the D-III power ratings, but with No. 4 Whitney falling to Bear River Wednesday, Thomason believes the T’Wolves will leapfrog the Wildcats and pick up the No. 4 seed.

If that’s the case, then Sierra would likely host two postseason contests.

“Start of Season 3,” Thomason said. “We’re going to work tomorrow and prepare. I just told the guys, ‘If you guys are hungry, if you guys want to go get it, we have just as good a chance as anyone else in our section.’”