Knowing they faced an early challenge to take quick  command of the action and tempo of the game, Sonoma Valley High School’s varsity basketball boys stayed on the heels of a fast and physical San Marin team from the opening tap of Tuesday night’s annual baseline-to-baseline nonleague preseason clash in Pfeiffer Gym.

Trailing just 14-11 after the first quarter, the Dragons put the defensive clamps on San Marin in the second quarter and rode the hot hand of junior Ryan Wilbanks, who scored eight straight points, on a 12-3 run that led to a 23-17 halftime advantage, and a 30-25 edge halfway through the third quarter.

But the visiting Mustangs then went on an impressive run of their own, a 15-2 gallop that lasted through the third quarter and into the final period, and when Sonoma was finally able to slow the stampede, time ran out and it became a 47-42 loss.

Pacing the Dragons were senior Jesse Summers’ 12 points and three rebounds; Wilbanks’ 10 points and four rebounds; junior Cyle Gusse’s nine points, five rebounds and one blocked shot; senior Jack Murphy’s six points, five rebounds and two assists; junior Tristan Mertens’ two points and three assists; and senior Vinny Albano’s three.

Sonoma’s boys, who played at Mt. Diablo last night – results not available at presstime – will host Terra Linda in their final home game for nearly a month next Friday, Dec. 20, in Pfeiffer Gym, before completing their nonleague schedule competing in the Marin Catholic Tournament the weekend of Dec. 26 to 30, and playing at Windsor on Saturday, Jan. 4.

The Dragons then open their Sonoma County League campaign at Healdsburg on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, followed by SCL road games at Petaluma and El Molino on Jan. 11 and 14, before finally returning home to host league foe Piner on Thursday, Jan. 16.