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Steele’s steal kills Sierra comeback

Cougar guard makes defensive play to beat T’Wolves

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Steele’s steal kills Sierra comeback

Sierra Timberwolf Grant Widmer tries to slip past Weston Ranch's Melvin Allen during the Cougars' 66-63 win over Sierra.

JAGADA CHAMBERS/The Bulletin


POSTED January 23, 2010 2:22 a.m.

After sustaining a first quarter Weston Ranch’s boys basketball team could not have drawn up any better, the host Sierra Timberwolves were in position to put together an improbable comeback. Cougar guard Jason Steele lessened Sierra’s chances with a huge steal in the waning seconds of Weston Ranch’s 66-63 win Friday.

Steele manned Sierra deep-threat Trevor Nougeira with 22 seconds remaining and the score knotted at 63. Nougeira crossed half court, shook right, then back left and in the midst of his next pivot Steele lunged at the ball and made the play of the game.

Nougeira’s next mistake would be most costly, as he lunged at Steele heading towards the Weston Ranch hoop and was whistled for the intentional foul. Steele calmly dropped both free throws and pushed the Cougars up by a pair with possession.

Sierra would foul Steele again with him making one of two, leaving Sierra in need of a miracle with 8.9 seconds remaining.

“I am happy for Jason because we have been talking all year about us needing someone who could step up and play defense,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “Every game I have given him the other team’s best player, and tonight against Nougeira he did an excellent job.

“He bothered Nougeira all night and at the end of the game he stepped up.”

Early on, a defensive stop to decide the game seemed farfetched, but Sierra was able to shake off a blistering Cougar start and claw back in the contest after trailing 25-16 to open the second. Sierra used a deep 3-pointer from Eddie Andrade with 27 seconds left in the first half to cut the Cougars’ lead to single digits.

Nougeira and post-presence William Ward scored the first six points of the second half to pull Sierra even closer, but another Weston Ranch run – a 3-pointer and layup from Steele – left Sierra coping with the results on a lackluster first period.

“We lost again in the first three minutes of the game,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “We talked about it for two days; delivering the first blow and getting off to a great start, and the kids were unable to do that.

“It is not about our warm-ups; it is going on between our ears.”

The Cougars could do nothing wrong it the opening period, connecting for four 3-pointers and getting buckets from six different players. Marcus Woods made his presence felt, hitting three of their four 3-pointers without registering a miss.

“It is hard not to say I’m happy with the way we opened this game,” Bono said. “We had some unsung heroes and Marcus had a phenomenal game. At the beginning of the game, I told them we had to match Sierra’s intensity because they always bring it.

“I felt we did a really good job in that first quarter of matching their intensity.”

Sierra (4-3 Valley Oak League, 11-7 overall) pushed the Cougars to their limits, tying things up 45 seconds into the fourth quarter on consecutive 3-pointers from Andrade. Nogueria hit a pair of free throws at the 4:46 mark, giving Sierra its first lead of the contest.

The two teams would battle through eight lead changes in the fourth with Weston Ranch pulling ahead for good on the first of Steele’s three fourth-quarter free throws.

Ward led all scorers with 23 points, scoring 12 of those in the first half. Andrade would finish with 13 as did Nougeria. Woods paced the Cougars with 18, Steele finished with 16 and senior Nathan Moises added 11.

The Cougars (6-1, 10-8) will have to let the victory be shortlived, as they play host to the Oakdale Mustangs at 7:15 p.m. Sierra will try and find its way on a trip to Ceres, meeting up with the Central Valley Hawks.

“After the game I told them great win; enjoy it until midnight,” Bono said. “And at the stroke of midnight we have to get ready for Oakdale. After every game, win or lose, you can either enjoy it until midnight or be mad until midnight.

“The previous game doesn’t mean anything; we have to get ready for Oakdale.”

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