The Union Democrat Sports Department

Sonora Wildcats girls' basketball coach Amy Santos knows that winning on the road is key to capturing a Valley Oak League title.

With a 50-40 victory over Sierraon Fridayin Manteca, the Wildcats, who also knocked off Mantecaon Wednesday, are one step closer to their goal.

"This was a huge week to go on the road and get two wins," Santos said. "Sierra beat Kimball and East Union, and they are pretty good teams. To go down there and get a win at their place was huge."

The Wildcats came ready to play from tip-off.

In the first quarter, Sonora's full-court pressure held Sierra to eight points. The Wildcats scored 19 and continued their hot shooting night into the second.

Sonora dropped 20, and again, Sierra was unable to find consistency on offense due to the Wildcats' constant pressure on defense.

"We came out and played one of the best halves that we played all season," Santos said. "Defensively, everything was clicking. They had a hard time bringing the ball down to their half. They didn't handle our pressure really well. We played it really well. We completely took them out of everything they wanted to do."

The Wildcats led 39-17 at halftime, and with such a big lead, Sonora was able to take its foot off the gas a little in the second half.

Sierra outscored Sonora 8-2 and 15-9 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

"I'm so excited that it's all coming together," Santos said. "Our goal is to keep progressing and getting better. We're definitely doing that right now."

Nine different players scored for Sonora with junior guard Bailey Henington netting a team-high 13 points. Michelle Ries added 12 and grabbed a Wildcat-best eight rebounds. Ries also converted 8 of 10 free throws.

"Really strong night," Santos said of Ries. "She's played well this past week."

After two away games, Sonora (10-4, 3-1 VOL) gets the comfort of playing at Bud Castle Gym when it hosts Kimballon Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.

"I want to see us maintain our level of intensity and see our defense continue to improve," Santos said. "We have a pretty tough week. Nothing's going to be easy. I just want to see some consistency. We have seen it lately, and I know that we can do it."