ELVERTA Sonora High School held a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn't close the deal and lost 66-58 to Center in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls' basketball playoffs last night.

The 11th-seeded Wildcats (15-10) led 46-45 after three quarters and quickly went up 50-45 early in the fourth. Then No. 6 Center (17-10) made its move.

"They upped the pressure and we lost our composure a little bit," Sonora coach Charmon Logan said.

Sonora, the Valley Oak League runner-up, got outscored 21-8 down the stretch.

"Our problem wasn't on offense, it was that we'd commit a turnover somewhere so our post players wouldn't even get to touch the ball," Logan said.

That was a good thing for Center, the Capital Valley Conference champion, because Sonora got a combined 42 points from center Nichole Horvath and forward-center Jessica Peterson. Horvath had 22 points and nine rebounds, Peterson 20 and seven.

"I thought they could dominate inside, and they did," Logan said.

Center's strength was in its guards, as Angela Musgrove and Kyla Howell outquicked Sonora on the way to 19 and 15 points, respectively. The Cougars weren't without an inside game, though, as Kimala Jackson scored 14 points at the business end of passes from Musgrove and Howell when the Sonora defense reacted to their dribble-drives.

"They took us off the dribble all night," Logan said.

Sonora got off to a good start and led 15-12 at the quarter break, but Center owned the second quarter and led 35-30 at halftime. Sonora bounced back in the third quarter to outscore the Cougars 16-10.

Rachel Wolfe and Nicki Rodriguez hit 3-pointers for the Wildcats, who now have dropped three straight first-round games.

Center moves on to a second-round game Thursday in Sacramento against No. 3 El Camino (24-4), which won 75-38 last night over No. 14 Ponderosa of Shingle Springs.