First-year varsity coach Lloyd Longeway has his first win with the Sonora High School boys varsity basketball team.

The Wildcats rolled over Livingston 71-59 Wednesday night.

Senior Jace Decker was the leading scorer with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

“He had a pretty good game,” said Longeway.

Senior Damian Cress had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Jacob Storm added nine points and five rebounds.

Longeway was named head coach of the boys varsity team over the summer. He’s been coaching sports teams at Sonora for 15 years. Soccer, freshman and junior varsity basketball.

Longeway said this year’s team has plenty of experience returning to the court.

The team is counting on that to work their way through a tough Mother Lode League schedule.

He’ll be relying on four team members who are in their third year of varsity.

Jace Decker is a team captain and a leader, said Longeway.

Jacob Storm is a dual threat for this year’s ‘Cats.

The six-foot, three-inch senior is not just another big guy inside. He’s also got excellent passing skills and has a good shot.

“He’s not stuck inside,” said Longeway. “He’s got a good set of tools.”

And there’s senior Rico Sanchez. The same Rico Sanchez who helped lead the Wildcat varsity football team to the Sac-Joaquin playoffs this year.

His skills on the football field make an impressive transition to the basketball court.

“He’s a point guard. He’s got a lot of basketball experience. (And) he is quick and explosive,” said Longeway.

“He really is a thinker out on the court,” he said.

Perhaps his best quality is his ability to remain calm in pressure situations.

“He always keeps his cool,” Longeway said.

Rounding out the raft of returning experience is Damion Kress.

“He’s like my energizer bunny,” said Longeway. “He’s going to be electric to watch. He’s usually a crowd favorite.”

This year’s league matchups will offer plenty of challenges for the Wildcats. There’s the back-to-back league winner Calaveras. They are always a tough opponent, Longeway said.

“Of course they are the favorite,” he said.

There’s Argonaut High School out of Jackson, who he expects will be a very good team this year.

And Summerville, the ‘Cats cross-town rival.

“There’s always a lot of passion,” said Longeway.

But before they get to the heart of their league schedule the Wildcats are on the road today for the Stagg Tournament in Stockton.

They’ll open against Rio Linda, a game Longeway says will be a good test for all aspects of the Wildcats game.

They return home Tuesday, Dec. 5 for a game against Pittman, using their non-conference results to tidy up their game plan.

Longeway doesn’t expect any easy league games this season.

“We will have to come ready every night,” he said.

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