The Palo Alto Vikings ousted the Sonora High Wildcats from the Northern California Regional Boys Basketball Division III Championship Tuesday night at Bud Castle Gym.

The final score was 68-62.

“I want to say for the whole team, God was good to us this year. The community was behind us the whole way. It has just been a special special season. This doesn't come along very often,” said Sonora coach Lloyd Longeway.

Longeway was surrounded by the team for a final speech after the game. Especially on the faces of the seniors, Longeway said he could see disappointment.

“I know a lot of them had a lot of passion and wanted to keep playing. It all came down on them that this was going to be their last game and their career as Wildcats was over,” he said.

Despite the home loss, Longeway sought to uplift the players with a reminder: they were the first Sonora High basketball team in 27 years to win a section title.

“I just couldn't be more proud of this group. I just told them we made history this year. This section pennant were going to hang on the wall, I told them nobody could ever take it away,” he said.

Sonora High School won the CIF Sac - Joaquin Section Div. IV Championships with a 73-70 victory over Liberty Ranch High School in Sacramento on Friday.

Hopeful for another victory, the Sonora community was abuzz with support for their home team on Tuesday night.
The Sonora High gym was at its 1,100-person capacity, Longeway said. Some guests were turned away from the stadium due to the lack of space and had to follow the game from the foyer and outside.

“It wasn't just me that was behind his team, it was the whole community,” Longeway said.

Sonora started the game with scoring momentum, neck and neck with the Vikings.

Austin Patterson, junior guard and Mother Lode League Most Outstanding Player, was “out of his mind in the first half of the game,” Longeway said, scoring a total of 20 points before the halftime buzzer.

Sonora led 33-28 at the half after Patterson sank a three-point buzzer beater.

“Some of the shots that he pulled were just incredible, though it was a team effort tonight. Everybody played super hard,” Longeway said.

Patterson would go on to score 32 points in the game, but it wasn’t enough to elevate Sonora above mistakes in the third quarter, where Palo Alto outscored them by 21 to 8 points.

“It didn't feel like a let down for us, of course we wanted to win, but we know in state playoffs all the teams are good. We had mistakes in the third quarter we couldn't overcome,” Longeway said.

Sonora went out to outscore Palo Alto in the fourth quarter, but not by enough.

With eight seconds to go in the game, Sonora narrowed the Viking lead to two points. Cheerleaders chanted, "I believe we can win," and the crowd joined in.

The Vikings hit two free throw shots and Sonora missed a three point shot in their next possession. The clock ran out just after Palo Alto, known as Paly, hit another two free throw shots to solidify their win.

Longeway said senior Midas Calindas, Mother Lode League Most Valuable Player, led the team in the fourth quarter with seven points in fourth quarter, and nine overall. Junior and Mother Lode League Second Team All League player Trey Hawkins scored nine points in the game as well, he said.

“They finished strong for us,” Longeway said.

Longeway said their play on Tuesday exemplified the team’s “professional poise” when facing adversity.

He recalled Sonora’s first game of the Mother Lode League on Jan. 8, when they lost 52-51 on a buzzer beater against Calaveras High School.

“It would have been easy for them to point fingers or abandon ship but they didn't do that. We stayed together and we worked together,” Longeway said.

The team’s 13-game winning streak ended Tuesday night, but it was inspiring basis with which they could start all over again next season, he said.

“We are very tight like family. When things get hard. We’ll always have each others backs,” he said.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.