ATWATER After a sluggish first half, Sonora High School pulled away for a 61-41 Valley Oak League boys' basketball victory over Buhach Colony last night.
The Wildcats (11-9, 5-2 VOL) led 23-19 at the half against the last-place Thunder (1-19, 0-8).
"We played a very poor first half," Sonora coach Rick Francis said. "We played much better in the second half."
Getting a defensive lift off the bench from guards Rusty Cotta and Cale Fanucchi, the Wildcats outscored Buhach 16-9 in the third quarter for a 39-28 lead, and then stretched it out with a 22-13 advantage in the final period.
Starting guard Aaron Jolley passed well and made a couple of 3-pointers to fuel Sonora's surge, and finished with a game-high 16 points. Fellow guard Travis Hendrix scored 13 points, and center Tom McDonnell scored 14 despite having a tough shooting night.
Sonora is two games behind East Union (8-0, 16-5) in the loss column, and one behind archrival Oakdale (17-5, 7-1) with five games remaining. The Wildcats are home Friday against Los Banos (14-9, 3-5).
"All the rest of our games are huge," Francis said. "We're trying to make the playoffs."
Sonora is No. 13 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings, vying for one of 16 playoff spots. The Wildcats have been in the postseason the past 18 years.