Sierra has done some of its best work against top teams so far, and Thursday was no different.
In the semifinal round of the Robert Dominic Fuchs Classic, 6-foot-5 center Will Ward and the Timberwolves got the better of 6-9 John Fenton and Central Catholic, 59-36.
Sierra (9-2) meets Valley Oak League rival Sonora for the championship today at Columbia College in Sonora. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. Sierra just so happens to open its conference schedule next Tuesday at Sonora.
Thursday’s battle was a showcase of two of the region’s top low-post players. Ward led the way with 22 points and got Fenton — who scored two of his nine points in the first half — in early foul trouble.
“It was a tough matchup against a 6-9 kid who is a pretty good player,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “Will was aggressive and really got after him.”
Sierra took a 24-17 advantage into halftime and didn’t let up from there, outscoring the Raiders (11-3) of Modesto 17-10 and 18-9 in each of the final two quarters. Emmanuel Elijah was instrumental in sparking Sierra’s pressure defense in the second half.
Guillermo Nunez — who was named MVP after leading Sierra to the tournament title as a sophomore last year — pitched in with 12 points and made eight of nine free throws.
Sierra is riding an eight-game winning streak that includes impressive wins over Golden Valley (9-3) and Lodi (9-2).
“The kids do a good job of taking it one game at a time — it’s really all we focus on,” Thomason said. “We’re just trying to get better every day and we’ll play whoever they tell us to play. Hopefully we’re bringing home a trophy tomorrow.”
East Union 59, Stagg 35
Brandon Cline pumped in 10 of his 13 points in the second half to lead the Lancers (7-4), who outscored Stagg (2-11) 14-4 in the second quarter and 22-8 in the third to break it open.
“Our offense was not bad, we were just missing a lot of great looks,” said East Union coach Brett Lewis. “But our defense was there the entire game.”
East Union tangles with Hayward for the consolation title today at 4:30.
Oakdale Rotary Classic
Chavez 56, Ripon Christian 48
The Knights (7-4) had their way in the post with 6-foot-5 twins Jared and Jordan Goslinga scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively, but they struggled to keep up with Chavez’s superior team speed.
Chavez (8-6) trailed 17-12 after the first but came alive with an 18-5 run in the second thanks to its full-court press defense. Deshaun Perkins finished with 14 points to pace the Titans.
Ripon Christian takes on either Southern League foe Denair or Hughson in the seventh-place game today.
Beyer 55, Lathrop 54
Lathrop had 1.3 seconds to get off the potential game-winning shot off an inbounds pass, and Joseph Sausau’s open attempt rimmed out.
Sausau finished with 14 points for the Spartans (6-5), who had won five of six going in. Andrew Kovanis added 11 points; all scored in the second half.
Beyer (6-9) was led by Zach Porterfield’s 15 points and 13 more from Anthony Vargas. The Patriots capitalized on a technical foul called on a Lathrop player early in the fourth quarter, stretching a one-point lead out to seven.
Lathrop closes out nonleague action against Ceres at noon today at Columbia College.