It was no secret that the Calaveras High School boys’ basketball team would have to play nearly a perfect game to beat the Sonora Wildcats. Well, that didn’t happen.
Calaveras put up as good of a fight as it could, but stopping the Wildcats and sharpshooting senior sensation Austin Patterson was too large of a task, as Sonora beat Calaveras 74-50 Tuesday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
“I think we played really hard, we just didn’t play good or smart and you have to do all of that if you want to have a chance against Sonora, because they are that good,” Calaveras head coach Kraig Clifton said.
There’s no denying that Sonora was hot Tuesday night. The Wildcats drained 12 shots from downtown and Patterson was responsible for six of them. Patterson finished the night with a game-high 29 points.
“They are very explosive and every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it,” Clifton said. “They have multiple shooters and it doesn’t matter where it is on the floor, they have guys who can knock it down. They are very difficult to defend.”
Sonora made baskets early, but so did Calaveras. Early in the contest, the Wildcats had an 8-6 lead. However, that lead exploded to 22-6 with 30 seconds to play in the opening period. Heading into the second quarter, Calaveras trailed 25-7.
“We played hard, but it’s the little things that we need to do that we work on the most,” Calaveras senior Kaven Orlandi said. “Overall, I think the first quarter was a bit slow for us and a lot of it was nerves that got to us.”
Trailing by 18, Calaveras had plenty of ground to make up. Orlandi helped with back-to-back buckets following rebounds and Isaiah Williams used the glass to help sink a 3-point basket. And with 29 seconds left in the half, freshman Jay Clifton drained a corner three to excite the hometown fans.
After being outscored by 18 to begin the game, Calaveras scored only four points fewer than Sonora in the second quarter, but still trailed 45-23 at the midway point.
Down 49-25 a minute removed from the start of the third quarter, Calaveras went on its biggest run of the night. Junior Connor Arnold made a shot in traffic and Orlandi followed that with two free throws. Jay Clifton intercepted a pass and took it coast-to-coast for the layup and got fouled in the process. He made his free throw to complete the 3-point play. Orlandi scored following a rebound to cap Calaveras’ 9-0 run. But Calaveras couldn't keep its offensive outburst going, as Sonora finished the third quarter on an 11-1 run, which included making three shots from behind the arc.
Down 63-35 to begin the fourth, Calaveras looked to end the night with something to build off of. Sophomore Jonathan Savage scored five points, which included an and-1 basket. Junior AJ Cardon scored back-to-back baskets and Jay Clifton scored four unanswered points to end the night.
Jay Clifton led Calaveras with 13 points; Orlandi scored 11; Cardon finished with 10 points; Tim Van Damme scored six points; Savage had five points; Williams scored three points; and Arnold finished the night with two points.
“This is new to us,” Clifton said. “We haven’t been whooped up on like that and I’m interested to see how we are going to bounce back. I want to see how much character we have and how much drive we have. Every game is a new game, it doesn’t matter who you play and you have an opportunity to win or lose. I’m curious to see what kind of team shows up Friday night.”
Calaveras (13-4, 0-1 MLL) will try to pick up its first league victory Friday as the Argonaut Mustangs (8-10, 1-0 MLL) make their way to San Andreas. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
“We just want to bounce back from this loss,” Orlandi said. “We are all motivated to get better. Argonaut is going to be tough, too, but if we go out there and play our A-game, I think we’ll come out with the win.”