Sierra High’s boys basketball team won its first Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship in its fourth trip to the title game with a 67-51 victory over Valley Oak League rival Weston Ranch on Friday at Sleep Train Arena.
Sacramento State-bound Josh Patton, Sierra’s 6-foot-8 center, was the star of the game, scoring a team-high 24 points with 12 rebounds and nine blocked shots, just missing an unorthodox triple double. Timberwolves guard Daniel Wyatt finished with had 18 points and seven rebounds, while Jess Spivey and Hunter Johnson finished with 11 points apiece. Johnson also had a game-high 14 rebounds.
“I knew (Josh) was going to come out and be a man tonight,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “Obviously, (Weston Ranch) had a tough time scoring around the basket.”
Weston Ranch’s Jaelen Ragsdale and Fred Lavender each scored 17, and Josh Dilg had 12 points.
“I’m just super proud of our guys,” said Thomason, who lost a heart-breaker to Riverbank in the 2001 title game and back-to-back finals in 2013 and 2014. “I don’t know if we could play much better.”
The Timberwolves outrebounded the Cougars 44-31, and Patton was the backbone of the defense.
“I just tried to mix it up when I was going to jump and when I would stay on my feet and try to belly up on them,” Patton said.
Either way, Weston Ranch was always aware of Patton’s presence and had to continually alter its shots to avoid his long arms.
“He’s going D-I for a reason,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan, a 2006 Beyer graduate who played at Modesto Junior College and Cal State Stanislaus. “I don’t remember who it was, but I heard a college coach say that he’s the best defensive center in the state of California.
“I couldn’t be happier for him. If there’s one guy I’m a fan of, other than my guys, it’s Josh.”
Sierra led 32-23 at the break, a lead that made Thomason a tad nervous.
“I think we had a nine-point lead at the half against Riverbank,” said Thomason, whose team squandered a late lead in the 2001 final and lost on a three-pointer at the buzzer. “I wasn’t too comfortable.”
Now the challenge is for Sierra to win a game in the Northern California regional tournament. Both the Timberwolves and Cougars will learn their NorCal opponents on Sunday.
“We can celebrate this victory in April or May or June,” Thomason said. “We’ll have five or six months after that to celebrate. But we’ve got business to take care of. We’re not done doing special things.”