The senior leadership Sonora head basketball coach Dan Dona envisioned from Will Collamer is coming to fruition.
In Thursday’s game against Summerville at Columbia College’s High School Holiday Classic, the point guard was outstanding, scoring 22 points to propel the Wildcats to a 59-48 win at Oak Pavilion.
“The really neat thing is that Will is embracing the leadership role,” Dona said. “As well as our other players respecting him and letting him lead. He’s making really good decisions. ... I’m really pleased with how he can control the game. He’s a real confident young man. I’m really proud of him.”
“I like to think of myself as a pit bull,” said Collamer, who also dished three assists and made a block. “I just go out there and I get it. I just work hard and I take what’s given to me.”
Sonora bolted out to a 19-6 lead in the opening quarter, and Collamer dropped eight points during that stretch. Five different players scored.
“We came out and played with fire,” Dona said. “We shared the ball really well early and that led to us taking control.”
The Wildcats were able to keep the Bears scoreless for more than four minutes, using a combination of constant pressure and a strong zone scheme.
“We had a little bit more energy on defense,” Dona said. “We just stopped them from penetrating. We really got in front of them.”
And that held true for the Bears.
“We just weren’t ready to play I guess,” said Summerville guard Jake Fulkerson. “In the first quarter, we played slow. We weren’t ready, but we picked it up in the second.”
Sonora led by as many as 19 points before halftime, but after a Wildcat technical, Summerville gained some offensive traction.
“There was a little turn of the tide at that moment, where they got six or seven calls in a row,” Dona said. “But maybe it was us getting a little bit lazier or thinking that we had a big lead and the game was over. We just kind of dropped our intensity a little. It caused us some trouble and it opened the door for them to play well.”
Bear sophomore guard Braden Anderson knocked down two free throws to start the rally, and from there, Summerville went on a 14-0 run to cut Sonora’s lead to 31-26.
“We just kind of got fired up on defense,” Fulkerson said. “We were making our shots. Running our offense like we should. We were a little confused in the first quarter. We weren’t sure what to do but we came back from that.”
Anderson, who ran into foul trouble in the first period and was regulated to the bench, came out in the second drawing numerous fouls driving to the rim. He nailed six shots from the charity strip and finished the game 10 of 13.
“That’s something new this year,” said Anderson, who scored a Bears-best 20 points. “Last year, I would freak out. I don’t know what happened. I guess my maturity level went up. Now, I’m knocking down the free throws.”
But Sonora didn’t let up and entered the break with a 38-29 advantage.
“It’s all about defense,” Collamar said. “We played fast and hard. We came out and we got a good lead, and then we started fouling a lot, but we got back to our basics and played really great defense.”
The Bears made it a four-point game on a Ethan McLaurin 3-pointer in the third, but that’s as close as they would get.
Both teams scored only seven points in that quarter, and Sonora outscored Summerville 14-12 in the final eight minutes to clinch its fifth victory of the year.
Collamar shot 8 of 14 from the field, including two from beyond the arc.
“When things get a little hectic, I know I can kind of rely on my jump shot,” Collamer said.
Summerville (4-5) dropped into the consolation bracket and will play Atwater today at 1:30 p.m.
McLaurin tallied 11 points and junior forward Bryce Farrell grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
“I think they’re going to do better in league than most people think,” Dona said of the Bears. “Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over for people. Ben (Watson) has them playing really hard.”
Sonora (5-4) advanced to the semifinals and faces Beyer at 4:30.
“Every win is a good win for us,” Collamar said. “We would take anything. We’re starting to get really good chemistry and we’re playing really well on defense.”