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Weston Ranch holds off Sierras second-half rally
Sierra guard Stephanie Vanni races past Weston Ranch’s Ladria Wright is applying the full-court pressure Thursday in Valley Oak League action.
After being slugged with a 14-2 run in the second quarter and a 10-0 run to start third, Sierra High’s girls basketball team still found itself trailing by five points with four minutes to play, but the Timberwolves would come no closer in a 60-47 Valley Oak League loss to visiting Weston Ranch Wednesday.

In a game that delivered the physicality of a postseason wrestling match, the two clubs battled and banged underneath and connected for eight 3-pointers from the perimeter. With the offenses clicking, the game would be decided defensively, and Weston Ranch was able to post that last stop.

The Cougars turned up the intensity to close out the fourth, deadening Sierra’s chances with a 10-2 run highlighted by Timnesha Wilson’s five points and a huge three-point play from Jazmin Strane.

“At the timeout with four minutes to go we talked about playing with composure,” Weston Ranch head coach Chris Bauer. “We had gotten caught up in the game; we were playing the scoreboard. I told them to rebound, get up and down the court and move your feet on defense.

“And we were able to do that, it really showed great maturity on our part.”

Weston Ranch definitely responded and Sierra pushed the Cougars to the brink, but could not close the deal. Sierra put itself in position to do something special with a 16-5 run from the end of the third until the four-minute mark.

Alysia Atkins sparked the rally, scoring seven straight points and drawing a technical foul out of Wilson when their bantering began to creep out of control. What Atkins was in the second half, Jordan Johnson was for the Timberwolves early. Johnson scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the first half.

“I thought we had the ability to cut that lead all the way down,” Sierra head coach Stephan Unterholzner said. “We had a chance, I actually thought we would win it at that point in time. There were a lot of fouls in that game and when Alysia fouled out it really took some of the heart out of our offense.”

Atkins went to the bench in the midst of the Cougars final rally, succumbing to her fifth foul after seemingly getting in position to take a charge.

Wilson led the Cougars (5-1 VOL, 11-6 overall) with 15 points, while Strane had 13 and sophomore Emoni Wilson chipped in with seven points and consistent play on the defensive end. Both Michelle Arroyo and Atkins finished with 12 for the Timberwolves, while Johnson’s 14-point effort led the squad.

“Jordan always plays like that,” Sierra guard Stephanie Vanni said. “She always gives us 100-percent, no matter what, when she’s on that court.

“She is a big part of our team.”

Sierra (3-3, 11-6) will have its hands full in its next matchup, traveling to face a Manteca High squad that is coming off a 53-50 loss to East Union for their first loss in league play. The Cougars will meet up with those same Lancers in Stockton and try and remain as the league’s only undefeated squad.