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Bears jump on Delhi early for win

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Summerville’s Bryce Farrell (above, left) drives to the basket on Tuesday against Delhi in the Bears dominant victory in Tuolumne.
Summerville boys’ basketball coach Ben Watson has an unselfish, team-first philosophy and his Bears, almost all of them, put on an offensive clinic Tuesday night against Delhi.

Twelve different players scored for Summerville and the Bears dominated the Hawks 54-35 in a non-league game in Tuolumne.

Ethan McLaurin recorded a team-high 10 points and Bryce Farrell added eight. Benjamin Richardson racked seven. Summerville shot 54 percent from the field, converting 24 of 44 baskets. The Bears also dished 17 assists and the bench scored 25.

“Team basketball is the focus of what we do,” Watson said. “That’s the plan. They’re great kids. They’re fun to coach. They’ve been great for years. Our philosophy is, ‘The easiest thing in the world to do is to shoot it. It’s to move, screen, cut, get open and deliver the ball that’s a lot tougher.’ We don’t really care who does that easy stuff at the end. It’s all about who does that stuff in the middle that’s important, and that’s what our kids have bought into.”

Redskins win Bret Harte Tourney

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Calaveras guard Caleb Hodgson (20) goes up for a shot against Liberty, of Madera Ranchos, on Saturday during the 25th annual BretHarte Boys’ Basketball Tournament in Angels Camp.
Calaveras boys’ basketball coach Kraig Clifton couldn’t have asked for a better start despite the Redskins battling injuries.

After suffering its first loss of the season to Kimball in the team’s season opener, Calaveras has reeled off eight straight victories.

Calaveras won the Riverbank Tournament in early December, and topped Trans Valley League foe Escalon last Tuesday before dispatching Encina Friday, and dominating Liberty, of Madera Ranchos, and Union Mine on Saturday to capture the 25th annual Bret Harte Tournament in Angels Camp.

“Our team depth has really come into play in these last eight games,” Clifton said. “It’s a combination of everyone. It’s someone different every night. It’s someone doing something different, either it’s rebounding or scoring. A lot of guys have stepped up, and we haven’t really played well yet. We haven’t played close to our potential, which is a positive. There’s been a lot of guys contributing, it’s really a team effort right now.”

Sonora pressures, beats D1 Turlock

esse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora junior Michelle Ries (12, above) a drives to the basket against Turlock on Tuesday night at Bud Castle Gym.
After missing the playoffs last year for the first time in nearly a decade, Sonora Wildcats girls’ basketball coach Amy Santos wanted stiffer competition to help prepare her team for Mother Lode League play.

So Santos scheduled upper-division Turlock and former Valley Oak League rivals Manteca, Oakdale and East Union to open the Wildcats’ slate in the preseason.

And the initial test against Turlock, who entered Tuesday’s non-league game with a perfect 5-0 record, paid off early.

Sonora bolted out to a 12-point halftime lead and knocked off Turlock 62-53 at Bud Castle Gym. Seven Wildcats scored and four different players netted double-digit points. Senior Hannah Garrett registered a team-high 15 and Michelle Ries added 12. Bailey Henington dropped 11 and Gabby Stewart added 10.

“In playoffs, our preseason counts for us,” Santos said. “I wanted to get as many upper-division teams as I can to help our strength of schedule and get a good seed for playoffs.”

Claim Jumpers dominate Modesto, win own tourney

The Columbia College men’s basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Ian Merzwinski threw down an athletic alley oop dunk to tip off the Columbia College Classic Championship game, and the Claim Jumpers dominated regional rival Modesto Junior College 72-55 on Saturday night at Oak Pavilion.

Alex Kiriluk recorded 11 of his 13 points in the first half and freshman Marquell Hubbard racked a game-high 20. Rafe King added 15. 

“We just ran our offense today and ran it perfectly, just the way we wanted to do,” Merzwinski said. “They let us have open shots and we just kept hitting them. We just want to share the ball. We’re just trying to play as much as we can as a team, and as long as we get the win then we’re all happy.”

Skins win Riverbank Tournament

With only a few games into the season, Kyle Funk is already playing some of his best basketball.

Funk earned Most Valuable Player honors and helped the Calaveras Redskins boys’ basketball team win the Riverbank Tournament.

Calaveras beat Ripon Christian 62-59 in the title game on Saturday, and also defeated Manteca 44-42 Friday and Waterford 67-18 Thursday.

Dylan Byrd and Jacob Williams were named to the All-Tournament team.

In the championship tilt, Calaveras fell behind early 11-0 to Ripon Christian before cutting the deficit to eight at halftime.

Williams scored a team-high 17 points in the finale and Funk added 11. Byrd and Jake Land each had six. Byrd pulled down five boards and Land dished four assists.

“We played much better in the second half,” said Calaveras head coach Kraig Clifton. “Great team win. This was truly a complete team effort to win this tournament.”

Bear grapplers strong at Ceres Invite

Devon Conklin placed third at the Ceres Tournament on Saturday to pace the Summerville Bears wrestling team.

Conklin, a sophomore, finished 3-1 at 132 pounds. He lost 6-4 in the semifinals to a Hughson grappler who went on to win the weight class.

“It was a match that could have gone either way,” said Bears head coach Jordan DePaoli. “He could have won the tournament. It didn’t work out that way, but the kid’s still motivated and we learned a lot from wrestling this kid. The next time he sees him, he expects to win. Devon has a bright future.”

Sonora wins state volleyball title

ORANGE — Sonora High School volleyball coach Kim Evans admits her team has gone through the entire season flying under the radar. 

In fact, the Wildcats apparently are so far under the radar, no one really knows where they’re from. During opening introductions for the Division 4 CIF State Volleyball Championships title match against Alta Loma, they were introduced as hailing from “Sonoma.”

The Wildcats were also said to be from Sonoma during the live streaming broadcast.

If people don’t know now, they soon will as the unheralded squad fought past top-seed Alta Loma 3-2 (25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 22-25, 15-8) on Saturday at Santiago Canyon College in south Orange County.

The Wildcats (37-5) won the first two games, lost the third and fourth, then regained the momentum and dominated the decisive fifth set.

“They said we’re from Sonoma, that’s wine country and I said, ‘No we’re not,’ “ said Evans with a chuckle. “We’re just a little school in a little town. It was big vs. small. We definitely have flown under the radar. But that’s OK. We like it that way.”

For the full story, and more photographs, see Monday's sports section of the Union Democrat.

Sonora’s Kiriluk named top MLL football player

Sonora Wildcat two-way starter Serge Kiriluk was voted by Mother Lode League coaches as the top football player in 2014.

Kiriluk, a fullback and inside linebacker, earned the league’s Most Valuable Player award after an outstanding season. The bone-jarring and punishing playmaker helped Sonora to an undefeated 6-0 record in MLL play in its first year in the conference and also carried the Wildcats to the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game.

“He did everything we asked of him,” Sonora head coach Bryan Craig said of Kiriluk. “Whatever we asked Serge to do, he would and he did it well. He did it with passion and everything that he had.”

Cats fall to CC in D4 title game

Sonora senior fullback Serge Kiriluk (3) carries the football during the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game against Central Catholic on Friday at Lincoln High School in Stockton. Kiriluk ran for a team-high 113 yards and three touchdowns. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat
STOCKTON — Sonora senior co-captain Bryce Sanguinetti emotionally declared his feelings for his Wildcat football family on Friday night.

“I don’t think I’ve loved anybody more. They’re my family. I would do anything for them.”

Fellow Wildcat, senior co-captain Serge Kiriluk, expressed the same view.

“This is the best team I’ve ever played for in my entire life. I love every single one of these kids to death. I would do anything for them.”

Sonora tops Harker 3-1, returns to semifinals

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora Wildcat Kiana Pisula (5) swiftly sets the ball on Saturday at Bud Castle Gym.
Queens of the Court are back again fighting for Northern California dominance.

After losing the opening set (25-23) Saturday night, Sonora roared back to thrash the Harker Eagles in three straight games (25-13, 25-18, 25-16) in front of a nearly-packed Bud Castle Gymnasium to advance to the NorCal final of the CIF State Volleyball Championships for the second straight season.

“They were a really good team,” said Wildcat senior Angela Gardella, who ended the match with a powerful kill. “We came out kinda weak, but we knew what we had to do and who we had to defend, and things turned out our way.”

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