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Home arrow News arrow Sports arrow Local Sports arrow SONORA LOSES LATE TO OAKDALE

SONORA LOSES LATE TO OAKDALE

By KEVIN SAULS

The first real test of its mettle has arrived for the Sonora High School boys' basketball team.

After blowing a 10-point lead in the last four minutes and losing to archrival Oakdale 53-49 on Friday night at Bud Castle Gym, the defending-champion Wildcats (10-8, 4-1 Valley Oak League), face a must-win road game Wednesday against first-place East Union of Manteca (13-6, 5-0).

"We'll see how we respond," Sonora coach Rick Francis said in the moments following the Oakdale game, which was played before a standing-room-only crowd at Bud Castle Gym.

After having its way with Oakdale (14-5, 4-1) for much of the night, Sonora didn't respond well under pressure down the stretch. The Wildcats took some ill-advised 3-point shots instead of working the clock, seemed to forget where their bread is buttered, and committed a spate critical turnovers.

They got outscored 14-1 between the 4:04 and 59-second marks of the final period to fall from a 45-35 lead to a 49-46 deficit as their fans watched in agony. Junior guard Zach Dyer restored some hope by tying it 49-49 on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 30 seconds left, by Oakdale star Ryan Stevenson easily scored on a one-one-one move in the key to put the Mustangs back on top 51-49 with 16 seconds left.

Sonora, hoping to duplicate its late 50-49 victory over Sierra from two nights earlier, called timeout with 12 seconds left to set up a play, but guard Rob Hoyt's 3-pointer from the left angle went out of bounds.

Oakdale inbounded with five seconds left and went deep to its other star, Josh Kitchen, for a clinching layup at the buzzer. The player who threw the pass was Chris Zellmer, the Mustangs' quarterback in football,

who had barely played otherwise.

"We played great defense and made a few shots at the end," Oakdale coach Nathan Rien said. "We had to have this one."


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