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Hawks slam Wolves
Central Valleys boys basketball team upsets Sierra 60-43 in Divison-III playoffs
Central Valleys Kendel Johnson throws down a one-handed dunk in transition, punctuating the Hawks first-ever playoff victory on Wednesday at Sierra High. Johnson tallied 11 points. - photo by WAYNE THALLANDER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's 11th-seeded varsity boys basketball team didn't carry a false sense of confidence into last week's Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III first-round playoff clash at No. 6 Sierra.

The Hawks had an impressive regular season just like the Timberwolves.

Central Valley deserved to host a postseason game according to head coach Darryl Dickson.

Sierra expected to face another opponent in the opening round, one with a less-impressive body of work.

"We got something to prove," Dickson said leading up to his program's first-ever playoff appearance. "I'm confident in my team. We look forward to the matchup. They're beatable."

The Hawks knocked off the Timberwolves 60-43 on Wednesday in Manteca.

"We were really prepared," Dickson said. "We executed our game plan to perfection. We won the game on the defensive end. We can still improve."

Sierra (20-7) advanced to the section finals two out of the last three years. The Timberwolves have amassed a 205-76 record, claimed five Valley Oak League titles and participated in the postseason 10 times under head coach Scott Thomason's direction since 2004-05.

The Hawks improved to 22-6 overall. Central Valley won nine of 12 games en route to a runner-up finish in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

"The guys are real happy," Dickson said. "This is our first year in the playoffs. We've been under the radar most of the year."

Hawk teammates Jaron Dickson, Daevon Brown and Ryan Donnelly scored a combined 43 points against the Timberwolves.

Dickson and Brown both tallied a team-high 15 points.

Donnelly had 13 points.

Central Valley's Kendel Johnson added 11 points.

"We have three really strong options we can go to," coach Dickson said while talking about the Hawks' talented offensive trio of Jaron, Daevon and Ryan. "We have great balance in scoring."

Sierra had two players score in double figures: Hunter Johnson (16) and Joshua Patton (13).

Timberwolf floor general Devin Nunez failed to make a field goal and collected just one point.

Brown, Johnson and Ja'Quan Gardner took turns guarding Nunez.

"Ninety percent of their offense runs through the high post," Darryl Dickson said. "We denied that. They had a hard time making adjustments."

Central Valley showed no signs of nervousness while making its first-ever playoff appearance.

The visiting Hawks outscored the Timberwolves 25-11 in the opening period. Dickson and Brown buried three and two treys, respectively.

"I thought we'd come out a little nervous," coach Dickson said. "There was no fear because we didn't know what to expect. We did the things we needed to do."

Sierra got within two points, 33-31, early in the third quarter.

"Their defense is intense," Darryl Dickson said. "We didn't panic. We were patient."

Central Valley accounted for 13 of the game's final 15 points. Brown led the way with five.

The Hawks accomplished several firsts this year.

Central Valley posted a winning record.

The Hawks reeled off seven straight victories.

Central Valley qualified for the playoffs and even won a game.

"This group of kids has worked really hard since March to prepare," coach Dickson said. "We got good chemistry here. The guys root for each other."
Manteca Bulletin managing editor James Burns contributed to this report.