Sonora coach near milestone after 'W'

SONORA -- For decades, the Sonora High gym has been the speed bump for so many teams trying to speed through a great season that it's almost unfair to call any outcome an upset.

And the way the Wildcats played Wednesday night in their 60-50 victory over Manteca High, maybe it wasn't an upset at all.

Sonora outhustled and outshot the Buffaloes, and most important was able to handle Manteca's pressing defense and overall advantage in quickness, and the result was a Valley Oak League chase thrown back up for grabs.

The Buffaloes (17-3, 6-1 VOL) appeared poised and capable of running the table in league play, but never got their offense going in the trap that is Bud Castle Gym.

"Up here it's a different story than anywhere else," said Sonora senior forward Brenden Evans. "We have the great crowd, the great surroundings, and the teams make it up here after a long drive. I guess it puts them in a trance."

The Wildcats (12-6, 5-2) picked up career win No. 599 for coach Rick Francis in much the same manner of most of the previous 598. Slow and steady always has won the race in Sonora.

Still, the Wildcats had to handle the Manteca press, and with starting guard Vicente Navarro out with an injured ankle, that would be difficult. And Sonora did commit most of its 15 turnovers against the press, but few of them led to easy Buffaloes' baskets at the other end.

Manteca last led in the game midway through the third quarter, when Kiwi Gardner scored seven consecutive points in a Buffaloes surge that gave them a 32-28 lead with 3:14 left.

But Sonora finished the third quarter on a 7-0 run and never let up. Evans had a steady four-quarter game and finished with 12 points, but Zach Gorgas pushed the Wildcats over the top, scoring all of his 17 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth.

SIERRA 53, CENTRAL VALLEY 38, at Modesto -- Christian Williams scored a game-high 21 points for the Timberwolves (6-1 VOL), including three 3-pointers. Trevor Mew led Central Valley (3-4 VOL) with 16 points.

OAKDALE 43, EAST UNION 41, at Manteca -- John Brunk (10 points) hit a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to lift the Mustangs (2-17, 1-6 VOL) past the Lancers (2-17, 1-6). Prior to Brunk's winner, Nick Garcia (10 points) tied it East Union with a layup with 7 seconds to go.

ENOCHS 77, BEYER 55, at Enochs -- Tyler Wasden drained four 3-pointers as the Eagles (15-6, 3-1 Modesto Metro Conference) pulled away from the Patriots (4-16, 1-3) with a monster third quarter. Enochs, which led 31-28 at the half, outscored Beyer 29-15 in third quarter. Marcus Bell got the better of Bryan Garbez in the battle of what could be the conference's top big men. Bell scored 34 points, and Garbez had 14, well below his season average of 21.7. "They didn't have an answer for him (Bell)," said Enochs assistant Brad McGhee. "We got the ball inside very well."

DAVIS 57, MODESTO 37, at Davis -- Lance Castaneda went for 17 points and 15 rebounds as the Spartans (12-7, 3-1 MMC) rolled past the Panthers (1-20, 0-4 MMC). Castaneda scored eight in the pivotal third quarter, when Davis outscored Modesto 22-4.

MERCED 102, BUHACH COLONY 81, at Atwater -- Allen Huddleston scored 31 points, leading four players in double figures as the Bears (13-8, 5-1 Central California Conference) ran past the Thunder (9-12, 0-6). Adrian Gonzalez led Buhach Colony with 27 points.

PITMAN 59, LOS BANOS 48, at Los Banos -- Edgar Lopez scored 11 of his 3 points in the first quarter, including three of his five 3-pointers, as the Pride (4-2 CCC) jumped out to a 21-8 lead. Rubal Sangha scored 22 points to lead the Tigers (3-3 CCC).


DAVIS 46, BEYER 24, at Beyer -- The Spartans (4-0 MMC) maintained their hold atop the MMC standings with the victory over the Patriots (1-3 MMC). Davis got victories in six of the final seven matches, anchored by heavyweight Alex Becker's pin over Trevor Duncan.

DOWNEY 42, ENOCHS 28, at Enochs -- Twin brothers Matt and Shane Galton won at 125 and 130 pounds, keying five straight wins as the Knights (3-1 MMC) held off the Eagles (3-1 MMC). Enochs wrestles Davis next week for a chance at a share of the MMC title.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC 47, HILMAR 24, at Hilmar -- The defending league champion Raiders (4-0 WAC) took care of business with victories across the lineup in the win over the Yellowjackets (3-1 WAC). In one of the night's closest matches, Hilmar's Hugh Ewing beat Chris Zizzo 5-4 at 145 pounds.

ESCALON 62, RIPON 15, at Ripon -- The Cougars received five victories via forfeit in the victory over the Indians. In the night's best match, Escalon's Charlie McDonald beat Ryan Mackey 5-2 at 171 pounds.

MARIPOSA 44, WATERFORD 25, at Mariposa -- Dylan Scardino's 7-3 upset over Eric Gomez at 171 pounds sparked the Grizzlies (5-0 TVL) to the victory over the Wildcats (3-2 TVL).

JC Basketball

COLUMBIA 77, PORTERVILLE 76 (OT), at Sonora -- The Claim Jumpers battled visiting Porterville to the end and came away with their first Central Valley Conference victory.

Davis High grad Jose Blanco scored 19 points for the second game in a row to lead Columbia (4-18, 1-5 CVC), which tied the game twice in the final minute to force overtime.

Bee staff contributed to this report.