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Sierra College teams defeat Sac City as playoffs await

Men take finale in overtime
By: Jeremy McDonald for the Placer Herald
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As if 40 minutes wasn't enough, the Sierra College and Sacramento City College men’s basketball game took another five minutes to decide a 103-98 thrilling victory for the Wolverines Friday, despite the Panthers’ 14 3-pointers in the contest.

“Never giving up, the whole never-say-die attitude” said Sierra College head coach John Fusano describing Sierra College’s win. “I said ‘we can win this;’ I remembered saying that … and we did.

“This league is amazing …, I mean, they’re a good team,” Fusano added, citing the number of close games Sac City had lost this season. “It’s not that we played horrible, they just played out of their freaking mind and we stayed together, stayed tough and played 45 minutes.”

Down by 12 with 14:28 left in the game, Sierra battled back to tie the game at 90-90 at the end of regulation play. The rally was led by Antonio Lewis' (Sheldon), whose free throws with 15 seconds remaining sealed the deadlock.

Derek Rhodes opened the extra frame with a 3-pointer for Sac City. But behind four points each by Lewis and Cole Preston in overtime, the Wolverines held off the Panthers for the win.

“(I’m) just happy to be a part of this team, this family,” said Preston, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five steals. “I mean, with everything going against us we just kept fighting and managed to pull off a crazy win.”

Sierra struggled in the first 32 minutes of the contest, allowing nine 3-pointers and losing the turnover battle. Sac City had a comfortable 65-53 lead before the Wolverines began their comeback.

With the win, Sierra College finished fourth in the Big 8 with an 8-6 conference record and 15-13 overall.

WOMEN

The Sierra College women left no doubt as to which was the best team on sophomore night, by jumping out to a quick lead and never looking back. The Wolverines cruised to an 84-57 victory over Sac City.

“It’s pretty important for us,” said Ashley Jenkins (Oroville) on the win. “We came into practice, studied everything about (Sac City), all their plays and we knew we had to win this game.”

Jenkins said after the club watched film of the Panthers, the team knew they would have to outrun them.

“That’s what we do at Sierra,” Jenkins said, “we outrun teams.”

The Sierra defense stifled Sacramento City College and allowed the Wolverines to take a 35-11 lead 13 minutes into the half.

The Panthers managed to stay in the game behind foul shots and turnovers by the Wolverines. Sac City was able to reduce Sierra’s lead to less than 20, until Jenkins and Celeste Vitolas (Oak Ridge) each drained a 3-point shot to give the Rocklin club a 42-19 lead at halftime.

“It was very important because we’re heading into playoffs; so we need to get that momentum building,” said former Woodcreek standout Liz Gehweiler. “We can’t come out slowly like we have been doing. We need to come out fast and get ready for playoffs.”

Sac City slowly chipped away at the Sierra lead with a 25-14 mid-half run, but could only get within 22 points of the Wolverines in the final frame. Sierra College’s Megan Roberson’s (Del Campo) 10-point charge in the second half helped the Wolverines maintain their comfortable lead.

Sierra College finished third in the Big 8 Conference with a 10-4 record and 21-8 overall. The women were ranked seventh in the North Region and 15th in the state as of Feb. 16.