SACRAMENTO — The Sonora Wildcats snuffed Liberty Ranch Thursday to win back-to-back CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championships at the Golden 1 Center.
The Wildcats roared onto the court at the start in a game that looked like a runaway but then tightened up in the middle quarters.
Sonora was up 22-8 by the end of the first quarter. With just over 5 minutes left in the second, the Liberty Ranch Hawks of Galt had battled back to within 10. They closed the gap to eight at the end of the first half. And the score went to 40-32 on a layup by Sonora sophomore point guard Callahan Hanson.
Liberty Ranch stifled Sonora’s scoring in the third. With three minutes left in the third quarter, the score was 44-41. Sonora, and then Liberty Ranch of Galt scored again, making it a one-point game.
Sonora wasn’t done, by far. The Wildcats quickly scored seven points to end the third quarter 51-43.
Halfway through the fourth quarter Sonora added to their lead, going up 62-49. The Golden Regiment Band played on as Liberty Ranch took a 30-second timeout.
Fans yelled defense, defense. Liberty Ranch managed to score six points, but Sonora kept them in check, adding four of their own baskets.
It was 65-56 with just under three minutes to play.
With 41 seconds left in the game, the score was 67-57, Liberty Ranch began intentionally fouling.
Senior guard Austin Patterson sunk two of his free throws and junior center Gabe Milbourn made one. Score 70-57 Sonora. Final.
Sonora senior guard Jon Mayben received the outstanding sportsmanship award.
Patterson was the game lead scorer with 30 points and nine rebounds, the most of all Sonora players. He had four three-pointers.
Hanson was next in scoring with 12 points. Mayben and Darius O’Neal added 10 each.
“All of our guys competed so hard,” coach Lloyd Longeway said. “It feels great. Coming into this season, this was a goal, but it was a long haul to get here.”