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Defense sparks Weston Ranch’s offense

Cougars slow down Washington to climb back from 17-8 deficit

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Defense sparks Weston Ranch’s offense

Weston Ranch's Denell Fox grabs the offensive rebound between Cynthia Perez and Brianna Wallace and puts it back up.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 13, 2009 5:09 a.m.
No one has been able to slow down Manteca sophomore guard Sharon Washington over the last two weeks, and she was still running full-speed ahead at the start of Thursday’s Valley Oak League contest with Weston Ranch Thursday at Winter Gym.

Washington scored 10 points in the first quarter to spark Manteca’s early 17-8 lead.

Then Weston Ranch went to the box-and-one defense.

With driving lanes bottled up for Washington for the remainder of the game, the Cougars battled back and even took a double-digit lead late in the third quarter en route to a 55-48 victory.

“Every time it was Washington for two, Washington for two,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “We had to do something different. We never worked on it, but we drew it up and they executed it well.”

Washington still finished with 17 points while racking up 10 steals and four assists. She went for at least 20 points in three of Manteca’s previous four games.

Cynthia Perez scored eight of her 10 points in the first half for Manteca. She also had 13 rebounds. Davina Bennett added eight points and 12 boards.

“Nobody else really stepped up to score,” Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said. “They did a great job of taking Sharon out of the game. That essentially was the difference of the game.”

Timnesha Wilson and the rest of the Cougars caught fire after Washington’s torrid start.

Weston Ranch hit seven 3-pointers, and Courtney Duran, who had 13 points, accounted three of them. Her three at the halftime buzzer tied it at 27-all.

DeArbia Gardner added two 3’s in the second and finished with 11 points. Denell Fox was busy in the paint, as she pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

But it was Wilson who led the charge in the second half after a quiet first. Wilson ended up with 16 points, nine assists and three steals.

Amber Bell’s fastbreak bucket 51 seconds into third quarter represented Weston Ranch’s first and only lead of the game. Wilson later hit a long jumper with 21 seconds left to stretch the Cougars’ lead to 42-32.

“We did what we had to do to win,” Wilson said. “If I have to take over for the team to win, then that’s what I’ll do.”

With just two games left in league, both Weston Ranch (6-6, 16-9) and Manteca (4-8, 11-14) are anticipating the Sac-Joaquin Section’s final release of its playoff power ratings. Weston Ranch entered the week at 11th in Division III, while Manteca was two spots shy of the final berth at 18th.

Weston Ranch takes on Ceres and Sierra next week. Manteca will have its hands full with the league’s top-two squads and defending co-champions remaining — second-place Sonora on the road Tuesday, then rival East Union next Thursday at home.

“We have nothing to lose,” Hiatt said. “We have No. 1 and No. 2 next week. Sometimes those are the dangerous teams, the ones that have nothing to lose.”

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