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TWolves back in first with win, Manteca loss
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After holding a 40-22 lead midway through the third quarter, it looked like Sierra wasn’t going to have any problem dispatching the visiting Central Valley Hawks at home.

But the Timberwolves didn’t take into account Central Valley’s suddenly red-hot outside shooting and dead-on free-throw accuracy as the Hawks clawed their way back to a score of 44-38. Sparked by Christian Williams, Sierra rallied late with three shots from beyond the three-point line to help ice the 53-38 win.

Despite the win that kept them in the battle for the Valley Oak League’s top spot, Sierra head coach Scott Thomason was anything but pleased with his team’s slow start.

“We just did a poor job handling the ball and turning the ball over, and I was disappointed that they were able to get three and four rebounds in a single trip under the basket,” Thomason said. “After we had that 40-22 lead I was expecting to see that killer instinct take over and just blow the doors open but that never happened and we let them get right back into the thick of it.”

Williams led the way for Sierra with his 21 points – nine of which came from three well-timed three-point buckets that seemed effortless – and also made a solid mark on defense by pulling down five rebounds, recording three steals, and blocking a shot.

He also sunk all four of his free-throw attempts during the fourth quarter.

Williams said Wednesday’s performance was redemption for his previous sub-par outings.

“I shot bad the last two games that we played, and tonight I had the chance to get some open looks that weren’t there before,” he said. “I missed a couple that I probably shouldn’t have, but I was happy with being able to get the looks and find my shot.

“After that loss to Manteca, we’re definitely picking things up now, and that team chemistry is really starting to bond for us out on the court.”

Trevor Nogueira also had a good offensive night for the Timberwolves with his 12 points, and Serge Veretennikov and David Keating contributed eight apiece.

 “We knew that they were coming out in that 1-2-2 zone so we didn’t want to press it and space the ball out,” Thomason said. “We did a good job moving the ball around and not forcing anything.”

The T’Wolves (7-1 VOL, 14-4 overall) will travel to Ceres on Friday.

The Hawks (3-4 VOL, 9-11 overall) will travel to Weston Ranch Friday to take on the Cougars. Both games tip off at 7:15 p.m.

Sonora 60, Manteca 50
Despite another double-digit performance by sophomore Kiwi Gardner, the Manteca offense just couldn’t keep up with the prolific Wildcats, who dealt the Buffaloes their first VOL loss of the season.

“We started out flat and we never really got going tonight,” Manteca head coach Dave Asuncion said. “I have to give credit to Sonora for playing the way that they did – even when we came back to take the lead they kept fighting and eventually overtook it for good.”

Gardner finished the game with a team-high 12 points.

Manteca (6-1 VOL, 17-3 overall) will take on Oakdale at home on Friday, while Sonora (5-2 VOL, 12-6 overall) will travel to East Union. Both games tip off at 7:15 p.m.

With the loss, Manteca relinquishes sole possession of first place.

Weston Ranch 63, Ceres 49
Nate Moises had 20 and Char’ Ray Poole added 12 as the Cougars handled business in Ceres.

Ronnie Collins finished with 11.

“We’ve been preaching team ball so much in practice that the guys were over-passing in the first half,” Cougars head coach Ryan Bono said. “We talked about it and we started making smarter passes in the second half.”

The Cougars led 27-23 at the break but ran away with it on the strength of a 15-6 third-quarter scoring run.

Weston Ranch (5-2 Valley Oak League, 10-9 overall) is now back in the league title race with Manteca’s loss Wednesday.

The Cougars host Central Valley Friday.