SONORA — Kelli Keefe had the hot hand Tuesday night, scoring a season-high 28 points as Sonora High opened the Valley Oak League with a surprisingly easy 61-35 victory over Sierra.
The sophomore was 8 of 10 on her 3-point shots — she hit all eight of the Wildcats' treys — and had six in the first half alone. That helped the Wildcats (6-6, 0-1 VOL) to a 36-22 lead, and they continued to pull away in the second half behind Keefe and Tori Selesia (15 points).
Sonora hosts top-ranked large-school East Union (14-0, 1-0) on Thursday night.
EAST UNION 38, CERES 31, at Manteca — The Lancers (14-0, 1-0 VOL) struggled against the Bulldogs' (4-9, 0-1 VOL) aggressive defense, but Lexy Posz (13 points) and Ashley Rose (12 points) nailed key baskets late in the game to preserve their perfect record. Ceres' Jode Johnson (15 points) scored almost half of her team's points.
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OAKDALE 39, WESTON RANCH 28, at Oakdale — Cassandra Clark scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Mustangs (7-5, 1-0 VOL) were 10 of 12 from the free-throw line in the final period to hold off the Cougars (10-4, 0-1). Oakdale led 23-22 after three quarters and began to build its lead in the fourth, then when the Cougars began to foul, Clark (6 of 6 in the fourth quarter) led the performance at the line.
MANTECA 49, CENTRAL VALLEY 43, at Ceres — The Buffaloes (8-6, 1-0 VOL) found themselves in a tight game, but got past the Hawks (2-8, 0-1) in the final minutes behind Morgan Salsedo's 14-point effort. Central Valley used its defense, Alyssa Long (14 points) had eight steals and Felicia Martinez (12 points) had four blocks, to stay close.
ESCALON 36, AMADOR 33, at Escalon — Annie Gallego (16 points) hit two free throws with 3 seconds left and the Cougars (4-7) held on to top the Buffaloes (0-14). Amador had cut its deficit to 34-33 with 5 seconds left, but Gallego was fouled while bringing the ball upcourt.
BIG VALLEY 59, VENTURE ACADEMY 38, at Modesto — Junior Megan Palmer scored 28 points as the Lions pulled away in the second half. Playing without any seniors, the Lions tool the lead early and kept building on it through the game. When Venture began shifting its defense to stop Palmer, Brittany Miller (13 points) and Samantha Lucero (14) capitalized on the opportunity.
LINDEN 44, RIPON 34, at Ripon — The big three of Jordan Baca, Melissa Orgon and Jamie Payne combined for 38 points as the No. 2-ranked small-school Lions (11-2) held off the Indians (5-9). Skye Dominguez (12 points) was able to keep Ripon close through three quarters, before the Lions were able to pull away in the final minutes.
HILMAR 34, LIVINGSTON 23, at Livingston — Defensive pressure was the key for the No. 3 small-school Yellowjackets (11-1, 1-0 WAC), as they shut out the Wolves (3-9, 0-1) in the first quarter. Point guard Lindsay Mendes (three assists, six steals) directed the attack for Hilmar, who used a 15-7 third-quarter run to take command, and Jessica Paine scored 11 points.
HUGHSON 45, SUMMERVILLE 34, at Hughson — Madelyn Birchall (17 points. 10 rebounds) and Karli Stark (14) handled much of the scoring, and Christie Hobby's fast hands produced 10 steals as the No. 5 small-school Huskies (10-3) topped the Bears (4-7). Point guard Bailey Tucker had 10 assists and helped the Huskies to a 23-26 halftime lead.
TURLOCK 55, ATWATER 10, at Turlock — The No. 2-ranked large-school Bulldogs (13-3, 1-0 Central California Conference) opened defense of their championship in impressive style, as Rachel Finnegan scored 18 points and the defense held the Falcons (4-9, 0-1) to four field goals.
Finnegan as hot in first half, scoring 12 and finishing with a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds to go with her four assists. Camille Roberts (eight points) had seven steals to keep the Falcons' from putting together a consistent offense.
Nicole Serpa's 3-point midway through the first quarter got the 'Dogs rolling.