The Sonora High School basketball team is headed for the CIF Sac - Joaquin Section Division IV championship on Friday for the first time in over 20 years, Coach Lloyd Longeway said.
“I am so excited for these guys. To get this opportunity is really truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.
Longeway said the last time the Wildcats reached a section finals was two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996. The last time Sonora won the section title game went back to 1988,” he said.
“This was one of their goals early in the season.” he said.
CIF Sac - Joaquin Section Division IV second seed Sonora will face off against first seed Liberty Ranch High School at 4 p.m. on Friday at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
The playoff road for the Wildcats was arduous and culminated in a stunning overtime victory against West Campus High School on Wednesday night.
West Campus scored a buzzer-beater three point shot to tie the game against Sonora at the end of regulation time, Longeway said.
The Wildcats went down right from the beginning of the four-minute over time period, but as they did multiple times throughout the offensive, neck and neck matchup, the Wildcats found a way to surmount the deficit.
“It was back and forth until we went up and held the score,” he said. “It was just one of those kind of games that's over in a blink of an eye. I looked up and couldn't believe there was 93 points.”
Sonora was victorious over West Campus by a score of 93-87.
Longeway said he was stunned by the 180 combined points because most high school games only earned around 100 points. It was a testament to the grit of the players that were able to score those points and pull off the win, he said.
“There was a lot of scoring, a lot of good action. It was exciting to watch,” he said. “Both team’s offenses were working. We were having a hard time stopping them, but they were having a hard time stopping us.”
The Wildcats celebrated in front of a “packed house” at their home stadium, which included students, staff and the school band, Longeway said.
“It was a great high school basketball environment,” he said.
Austin Patterson led the team with 34 points, followed by Tyler Matyshock with 21 points. John Mayben, who scored 9 points, came off the bench and had his “best game of the season,” Longeway said.
“He got it done in every period of the game. He was just a load for them to stop,” he said.
Try Hawkins and Evan Bearden also scored nine points each, Longeway said.
In the lead up to the finals, Sonora beat tenth seed Foothill High School 68-52 on Feb. 15 and fifteenth seed Riverbank High School 56-42 on Feb. 13.
The team was greatly anticipating a tough game against the first seed, but many of them were inspired by the opportunity to play at the home area and court for the NBA Sacramento Kings.
Liberty Ranch played a “fast-paced game” Longeway said, but Sonora would match their intensity to make a play for the section title.
“We’re going to play just the same way, take care of the ball and play great defense. We really feel like if we can come in and play great team defense we’ll have a shot at winning the game,” he said.