By KEVIN SAULS
Guard Rob Hoyt has been the defensive leader of the Sonora High School boys' basketball team for two years, routinely shutting down the opponent's leading scorer.
Lately, the senior has become a left-handed gun on offense as well, averaging nearly 14 points per game in the Wildcats' last five outings and helping them get off to a 3-0 start in defense of their Valley Oak League championship.
The Union Democrat's Athlete of the Week shot the lights out in the first quarter of a 65-38 victory over Buhach Colony of Atwater, scoring 15 of his 17 points as Sonora bolted to a big early lead at Bud Castle Gym. He followed that up with an 11-point performances in a big 59-38 road victory over Los Banos.
On defense, Hoyt blanked Buhach's Israel Resendez and held Los Banos' Jesse Quesada to eight points, far below his average of 18.5 per game. In Sonora's league opener, a 54-46 victory at Manteca, Hoyt allowed Gilbert Martinez to score only three points.
"Rob has that burning desire not to let his man have that success," Sonora coach Rick Francis said. "He takes pride in his defense. He just says, 'You are NOT going to score your average.' "
It's a bit ironic that in his other sport, football, Hoyt didn't even play defense. He was all about offense on the gridiron, catching touchdown passes as a wide receiver and kicking field goals and extra points as Sonora made the playoffs.
His basketball reputation is as a defender.
"Defense is that Coach Francis always tells us will enable us to win," Hoyt said.
His matchups this week will be against Sierra of Manteca's Daniel Pastran, who once hit 10 3-pointers in one night, and Oakdale's Ryan Stevenson, who is a 20-point game waiting to happen.
"Guarding Stevenson is the thing I've been looking forward to all year," Hoyt said.
The showdown takes place Friday night at Sonora's Bud Castle Gym.