STOCKTON — Sierra High gave Weston Ranch a scare Friday night.
The top team in Valley Oak League struggled at times against the pesky Timberwolves before prevailing, 63-56.
“We knew they would be ready for us — Sierra has the area’s best coach (in Scott Thomason). I have full respect for him,” said Cougars coach Chris Teevan.
Weston Ranch (9-0 VOL, 18-4) was coming off a hard-fought win over Manteca.
But that was hardly an excuse. Rather, Sierra (4-5 VOL, 13-8) battled tooth and nail while trying to secure a postseason berth.
“We came out with great purpose,” Thomason said. “I was proud of our guys. They played with a great energy level.”
Trying to sustain that level against the talented, well-rounded Cougars proved to be a tall order.
In which case, Anthony Booker was just that. The 6-foot-10 center came through with 17 points — four were dunks on the two-handed variety — 13 rebounds, and three blocks.
“I got some easy baskets inside thanks to our great guards,” said Booker, who converted on a three-point play on his first touch early in the game.
Jaelen Ragsdale, who also hit for 17, hit a buzzer-beating 3 to end the first quarter, giving Weston Ranch with a 20-16 advantage.
The second quarter belonged to the Timberwolves, with Alex Farfan providing the boost off the bench.
But prior to that, Daniel Wyatt delivered on a steal while Noah Ault and Jesse Spivey followed up with consecutive treys, typing the game at 24-24.
Farfan put Sierra ahead by nailing a 3, getting then fouled from beyond the arc and hitting three straight from the foul line.
“My job was go inside and battle for rebounds,” he said. “We were in attack mode.”
Farfan scored 10 of 12 points during that span, helping the Timberwolves take a 36-30 halftime lead.
The second-half tempo swung in favor of Weston Ranch.
D’Angelo Finley and Fred Lavender consistently drove line, passing the ball to Booker upon drawing the double team.
Booker was open each time for the jam.
Josh Dilg chipped in with a trey, knotting things up at 42-42.
The finally went ahead for the first time since early in the second on Lavender’s drive to the hoop at the 1:40 mark in the third quarter.
Weston Ranch maintained that edge in the fourth, with Dilg, who finished with 10, delivering on a big 3 and following that up by scoring on a clear lane to the basket.
The Cougars closed out by hitting 9 of their 10 free throws, including eight straight at one point.
Lavender had 11 and Finley finished with eight.
Spivey led Sierra with 19 and Wyatt added 12.
Despite the loss, Thomason was optimistic.
“We’ll be OK, we’ll bounce back,” he said.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, firstname.lastname@example.org.