If there has been a moment Scott Thomason has taken to enjoy the historic accomplishments of this season’s Sierra High basketball team, it hasn’t come in front of his team.
Last week, the Timberwolves clawed to their first Sac-Joaquin Section title, and followed that on Saturday with a near wire-to-wire, 65-57 victory over Archbishop Riordan – Sierra’s first win at the regional level, good for a school-record 30th victory.
You know Thomason is relishing the run. But he won’t show it.
“I’m trying to take time to enjoy it, but I’m doing it away from our guys,” Thomason said. “I’m not coming into practice smiling and I don’t want them thinking that I’m satisfied.
“I’ve eliminated all the talk from the section title and told the guys not to wear the section championship hats. We’ll have plenty of time to reflect and look back on what we’ve accomplished, but for now we have to focus and stay hungry.”
Sierra earned a No. 3 seed, a first-round bye, this second-round home game and an eight-day break between games by virtue of its Division III section title and the gaudy 30-2 record.
Now, the Timberwolves will be asked to step up again and will travel to Moraga on Tuesday to face No. 2 Campolindo in the NorCal D-III semifinals. Campolido is 26-4, with four of those wins coming during its title run in December at the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic.
If the Timberwolves can mount another effort like the once they used to trip Riordan, Campolindo will have its hands full with Sierra’s balance.
Senior center Joshua Patton led the stat sheet for the Timberwolves with 22 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and two assists, while Jess Spivey scored inside and out for his 17 points. Hunter Johnson added 14.
While Johnson was steady throughout the game, Patton’s charge came in a 15-point first half, during which time he also controlled the middle on defense.
“We knew a lot of their players like to drive so we just tried to anchor the paint and make sure that if they tried to drive it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Patton, a 6-foot, 8-inch post headed to Sacramento State next fall. “If they hit a three, then OK. But it’s harder to hit a three than a layup, so our job was protecting the basket.”
Patton’s first half domination allowed Sierra to build a 33-22 halftime lead on the Crusaders. When he needed a rest midway through the third quarter, Spivey stepped up.
The 6-4 junior forward scored 11 points in the third, including eight in the final 2:13 to ward off a Riordan spurt that brought the Crusaders within 40-33. They wouldn’t get that close again until the final minute, despite the 22 points from senior guard Max Randall and 13 from junior Eddie Stansberry.
“I was in attack mode,” Spivey said. “My teammates were getting me the ball, I was hot and I was just attacking the rim trying to get my game going.”
Riordan (18-11) threw several different traps and presses at Sierra, but the Timberwolves – who were able to scout the Crusaders in person during their first-round victory – were ready for all of it, even turning the pressure into lead-padding layups at the other end.
And when Riordan had to resort to fouling at game’s end, the Timberwolves took the opportunity to hit 18 of 19 free throws.
It was a complete-game performance by a complete team.
“We hopefully can get the win Tuesday and keep going from there,” Spivey said. “The sky’s the limit and we’re certainly not going to relax at this point.”