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Sonora Wildcats stifle Timberwolves

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat. Sonora Wildcat guard Bailey Henington (3) penetrates the lane against a Sierra defender in the team’s Valley Oak League win on Thursday at Bud Castle Gym.
After a disappointing loss to Weston Ranch earlier in the week, the Sonora Wildcats girls’ basketball team rebounded in a big way.

With great defensive pressure by Sonora, the Wildcats sealed a 56-43 victory over the Sierra Timberwolves on Thursday at Bud Castle Gym.

“It was a tough loss on Tuesday,” said Sonora head coach Amy Santos. “I’m really happy with the way that we prepared, came out and played this game.” 

Sierra came out on fire right from the opening tip-off, but Sonora was able to keep pace and led 15-14.

“Sierra came out pretty hot with intensity,” Santos said. “It’s easy to kind of cave when a team comes out with  intensity like that. I was pretty happy with the way we came out. I was proud with the way we were able to maintain with them.”

But for the Wildcats, they did not let that strong start from Sierra affect them.

Sonora dropped 21 points in the second quarter and its full-court press limited Sierra to just eight points. The Wildcats entered the half with a commanding 36-22 lead.

“We kind of settled in with our press,” Santos said. “We went on a little run in the second quarter to get a little bit of a cushion. We just got our intensity with our press. We got some steals and turned them into points.”

In the third quarter, the Wildcats were back at it and Sonora outscored Sierra 17-5.

“I think it was turning our defense into offense,” Santos said. “Our transition points were big. That was our bread and butter.”

The Wildcats shut down the Timberwolves’ post players, which gave them a leg up.

“We were getting a player on them,” Santos said. “Doubling down on them. Playing better defense on them. We defended them better and kind of shut them down.”

Although Sierra managed to outscore Sonora 16-3 in the final 8 minutes, Sierra’s post players managed just five points in the second half.

“It was kind of nice in the second half,” Santos said. “Their two bigs only combined for five points. We broke them down. They didn’t have enough gas in the end.”

At one point, the Wildcats led 50-29 late and were able to pull their foot off the pedal.

Wildcat sensation Bailey Henington netted a team-high 18 points and Michelle Ries added 14. Shea Stead finished with 10. Henington and Stead also sank a 3-pointer.

Sonora’s Sandra Renda tallied six points and Maria Chacon had four.

“We got some spark from the bench tonight,” Santos said. “Sandra and Maria coming off of injury both played great tonight. They got considerable amount of time. It was really good to get everybody in.”

Sonora (13-7, 6-4 Valley Oak League) looks to make it two in a row when it faces Lathrop on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.

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