Sierra College starts 1-0 in Big 8 Conference play
Sierra College men’s basketball coach John Fusano would be the last to admit it and there were few at Goto/Goldenberg Court who would argue, the Wolverines’s Big 8 opener against perennial Northern California power Diablo Valley College was as big as it gets.
Fuscano was all smiles after Sierra’s gritty 73-61 win over the Vikings Jan. 8. The victory moved the Wolverines to 10-4, 1-0 in conference.
“That was a huge way to start conference,” said Fusano. “What a great team defensive effort, especially at the end of the game.”
Although four Sierra players scored in double figures, it was a suffocating defense that held 10-5 Diablo Valley to nine points in the final minutes. After Gabe Finley’s field goal put the Wolverines up 66-53 with less than four minutes to go, the Vikings began sending Sierra to the charity stripe.
Pogos Trunyan, Drew Brandon and Devin Murphy (Woodcreek) each went 2-2 to end the game. A Diablo rally could do nothing against Sierra’s defense.
The Vikes’ Mike Harris scored 22 but did not get off a shot after the 3:49 mark thanks to Finley, Matt Scott and Jordan Ngatai. Murphy and Brandon held Diablo’s backcourt to just three points in the game.
Finley scored 16, Ngatai 14 and Truyan 11. Brandon had seven assists and 10 points.
Santa Rosa 88, Sierra 74
The “Battle of the Big 8 Big Boys” at Santa Rosa Junior College went to the state’s No. 3 team as the Bear Cubs pulled away for the victory. The Wolverines came in ranked ranked eighth.
Santa Rosa jumped out to an early 34-19 lead. Trunyan hit two treys and Brandon and Manny Trillo one each to close the gap to 42-33 at the break.
SRJC went 15-20 from the free-throw line in the second half to help ice the game. The Cubs were 25-33 for the game. The Wolverines were 9-15.
In the second half, Brandon had four 3-pointers and scored 12 points on five consecutive possessions. Four minutes later, he hit two well-defended treys and cut Santa Rosa’s lead to 76-69 but that’s as close as the Wolverines would get.
Brandon scored 24 points on six treys scoring 18 in the second half. Trunyan had 12 points, Ngatai 11 and Murphy 10.
Sierra College was up 35-31 over SRJC at intermission but eventually fell 70-60 on the Bear Cubs’ home court last week.
With just nine players in uniform, Sierra (10-6, 1-1) simply ran out of gas.
Michelle Walker (Colfax) picked up her fourth foul four minutes into the second half. She fouled out at the 7:40 mark with 11 points and 10 boards. Santa Rosa (14-4, 2-0) wore a path to the charity stripe in the final eight minutes.
Kayla Reeves (Placer) had 18 points, three from long range. Kirstie Williams and Christina Mandich had 10 each.
Taylor Donnot (Del Oro) broke her femur in practice and Dakota McLarnan is out for the season.
The Bear Cubs are three-time defending Big 8 champs.