Clutch shooting, rebounding, selfless ball-handling and defensive teamwork have combined to make Sonora High School a dominant force in varsity boys basketball in the Mother Lode so far this season, while Summerville High is still playing hard and playing for pride.

The Wildcats are in first place in Mother Lode League standings with a 6-1 MLL record, and they’re 20-4 overall with strong showings in three tournaments. They host 0-7 Bret Harte in a league game at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Sonora.

Junior Wildcats guard Austin Patterson is a gifted scorer, one of the top talents in Mother Lode League competition, and most outstanding player at the 56th annual Joe Nava King Classic tournament won by Sonora in December and hosted by Amos Alonzo Stagg High in Stockton, Sonora coach Lloyd Longeway said Thursday in a phone interview.

Patterson is 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, with outside shooting skills and enough muscle to get inside to the rim. Down eight points earlier this week to Argonaut, Patterson hit eight straight to force overtime in a game the Wildcats went on to win, Longeway said. Patterson was also most outstanding player of the recent Columbia College High School Holiday Classic Tournament, which Sonora also won.

Patterson is being looked at by California State University Stanislaus and San Francisco State University, Longeway said.

Other starters include senior point guard Midas Calindas, who nailed a three-pointer in overtime to defeat MLL rival Argonaut 70-67 in a Tuesday night home game this week. That win put Sonora in first place in the league, with Argonaut, 5-2, just behind in second place.

Senior guard Trey Hawkins, senior center Tyler Matyshock, junior forward Darius O’Neal are playing key roles as well. Hawkins has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, Matyshock is “a stellar performer inside for us and makes a lot of hustle plays,” and O’Neal takes the most charges for the team, Longeway said.

The Wildcats also have important depth that includes three energetic juniors coming off the bench. Logan Sewell, John Mayben and Ben Fray all bring a ton of effort as substitutes when starters have to rest, Longeway said.

“This is a special team,” Longeway said. “We’re on a good run. We won the league last year. But this, what makes this team special is the way they treat each other, and how hard they work in practice, to prepare to compete at the best of their abilities.”

Aside from winning two tournaments so far this season, Sonora also finished third in the prestigious 16-team 2018 Mark Gallo Invitational Tournament at Central Catholic High in Modesto in December. Patterson was named to the all-tournament team.

There are opportunities for this Wildcats team to finish as one of the best teams in Sonora High School history, no doubt, Longeway said, depending on what they can do this postseason. They have a really strong junior class so Longeway and his staff are excited about next year, too.

With just a handful of games remaining before playoffs and postseason do-or-die games begin, Longeway says the Wildcats are just trying to stay in tune, clean up a few mistakes, and focus on playing really good basics of fundamental basketball: dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding and defending.

“Right now we’re ranked number two in Sac-Joaquin Section, Division 4, and we’re excited about the postseason,” Longeway said Thursday. “We know we have to finish up our league, and we’re really gearing up for postseason.”

Summerville Bears

The Summerville Bears varsity boys basketball team, 3-4 in MLL and 6-13 overall, sustained some tough preseason and early season losses, and they currently sit tied for fourth in Mother Lode League standings.

They are scheduled to play a difficult road game against third-place Amador, 4-3 MLL and 12-10 overall, at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Sutter Creek.

Four senior starters, small forward Jordan Craddock, power forward Octavian Hernandez, center Markus Warnock, and guard Mitchell Prevost are playing hard with sophomore guard Jaden Brocchini.

Craddock brings leadership, coachability and a lot of desire to each game, Bears coach Ben Watson said Thursday in a phone interview. Craddock is not a big scorer and he’s not a big rebounder, but he’s always thinking team first as he runs the offense, Watson said. Craddock cares more about winning than individual stats, he always knows where to go on the offensive end, and he’s an unselfish player.

Prevost, a returning starter, is Summerville’s best all-around player, Watson said. He can shoot the three, get offensive and defensive rebounds, score from inside and outside, defend the opponent’s best guard and go up against bigger players. He loves the game, he’s versatile, and he’s the leading scorer for the Bears this season.

Hernandez is also versatile, and he does a lot of the dirty work inside, Watson said. Hernandez has a nose for the ball and he’s always looking for rebounds.

Warnock is 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, and he’s a hard-nosed, physical player. He’s a leading rebounder, very aggressive, and he plays close to the hoop. He’s more a physical presence than a scoring threat, but he works hard in the paint and the Bears rely on him to handle the opponent’s big guy defensively, Watson said. Defense is Warnock’s strength.

Brocchini is smart, especially for a sophomore, and he’s still growing and getting his legs under him, Watson said. He’s a bright young man, a hard worker, a strong outside shooter, and he gets better every day.

“It’s been a frustrating season,” Watson said. “We lost a lot of close games in preseason, and we lost too many close league games. There’s still plenty to play for. We’re doubtful of playing postseason, but we’re playing hard every game and hopefully playing our best games at the end of the season.”

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

22402378