Sonora fourth in Oakdale tourney

December 30, 2002 12:00 am

OAKDALE — Sonora High School nearly pulled a big boys' basketball upset, but ultimately settled for fourth place in the 33rd annual Oakdale Rotary Holiday Classic.

The Wildcats (6-7) put a scare into Downey of Modesto, the top early season team in the southern half of the Sac-Joaquin Section, in Friday night's semifinals before losing 44-36. Saturday, Sonora fell to another Modesto team, Johansen, 45-40 in the third-place game.

Two bright spots of the three-day, eight-team tournament, which Sonora began with a 56-16 rout of hapless Gustine on Thursday, were the scoring of senior point guard Rob Hoyt and the Wildcats' relative dearth of turnovers.

Hoyt, who had barely been scoring, went for 17 points against Downey and 10 against Johansen. On defense, he held Downey's vaunted Guy Ten-Fingers to 13 points — only two in the second half until four free throws in the last 35 seconds, when Sonora was forced to foul.

As for turnovers, Sonora went into the tournament averaging more than 20 per game but committed just 11 against Downey and 12 against Johansen.

The Wildcats looked the best they have all season in the second half against Downey (13-1), holding the Knights to six points for the first 14 1/2 minutes and rallying from a 34-17 deficit to within 38-36 on a 3-pointer by Aaron Jolly with 3:18 to play.

Sonora had several chances to tie or take the lead, but couldn't get any shots to fall down the stretch and was hurt by a questionable five-second call against Hoyt as he tried to get a set play started.

Downey pulled away by making six straight foul shots in the last 1:30.

The Knights went on to capture their sixth Oakdale title — one short of Sonora's record — Saturday night with a 49-47 victory over the host team.