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Williams spearheads Sierras late burst to stave off game Oakdale
Serge Veretennikov pulls down a rebound off the offensive glass. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Sierra beating Oakdale wasn’t much of a shocker.

That the Timberwolves’ starters were still on the floor as the game-ending horn sounded was.

Visiting Oakdale trimmed what was a double-digit deficit to six with five minutes left, but Sierra managed to escape what could have been the Valley Oak League’s biggest upset in the 54-39 victory Wednesday.

Christian Williams powered Sierra’s late 11-0 flurry that put it out of reach, ending the run with a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 18 seconds to go.

Oakdale’s Robert Stout (eight points) nailed a mid-range jumper to close the Mustangs by six, and he snapped his team’s 4-minute, 44-second scoreless funk with a shot from the right wing to cap the final score.  

Williams flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Trevor Nogueira sank three first-half 3-pointers, adding 10 points and four assists for the Timberwolves.

“Christian through four quarters was big for us, especially down the stretch,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “But I was disappointed in our post guys, their lack of scoring and their lack of rebounding.”

Oakdale (1-10, 2-20) held Sierra to just two offensive rebounds all night, and center Ryan Thompson led the Mustangs with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

In Oakdale Jan. 14, Sierra (9-2, 17-6 overall), which is a game out of first with three league contests remaining,  trounced the last-place Mustangs, 64-17.

“Coming in here we just said that we’re going to play as hard as we can and let them know that we’re still in this league,” Oakdale coach Jeremy Fields said. “For three and a half quarters we did that, but we had two starters out and we ran out of gas there at the end.

“I’m proud of our guys. If a few shots fell our way maybe we’d take it away there in the fourth quarter.”

The Mustangs had another scoring drought in the first half that gave Sierra some needed breathing room.

Oakdale was scoreless for over three minutes in the second quarter while Sierra rattled in five 3-pointers to take a 33-21 lead into halftime. The game was tied at 12-all after the first.

Sierra was ahead 41-7 by halftime in its first meeting with Oakdale.

“We had the momentum at halftime and I thought we could have come out in the second half and extend the lead and get after it a little bit,” Thomason said. “But when you let teams hang around they develop that confidence, and at that point anything can happen. We made the plays when we needed to.”

Sierra still has a shot at capturing the title if league-leading Manteca loses any of its final three regular-season contests. Thomason’s main concern, however, is getting his team back on track for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

“We just have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for East Union (at home) on Friday,” he said.  “We’re not where we need to be right now. It’s on me; I need to do a better job of getting the kids to where we need them to get to.

 “It’s not about the score, it’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about playing to our standard, and for that we lost this game.”