A recent call-up from the junior varsity squad, Elijah Mobley gave Weston Ranch something else to be excited about late in its 88-50 blowout win at Manteca’s Winter Gym on Wednesday night.
The freshman guard splashed down back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, hit three in all from behind the arc and totaled 13 points while impressing his veteran teammates.
“Elijah is good, and he’s one of those people who can give the team a spark,” Cougars junior Mi’Son Coilton said. “You can’t replace his energy. Coming to the team is like bringing us one step higher.”
Reigning Valley Oak League MVP Gavin Wilburn led all players with 26 points, and Coilton produced 18 to go with nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals. They, along with Mobley, picked up the slack for ailing scoring guard Donjaé Lindsey, whose availability was a game-time decision. He still managed to tally 10 points despite playing with the flu.
“Coilton was everywhere and kind of sparked everybody, and I was probably Wilburn’s best game of the year,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “We’re really hitting our stride right now.”
Jordan Burciaga registered14 points for Manteca (3-3 VOL, 10-12 overall), which struggled with Weston Ranch’s pace and had two starters foul out. Spencer Briscoe contributed 11 points.
Mobey made his varsity debut last Saturday in the MaxPreps/De La Salle 23rd MLK Jr. Classic at Saint Mary’s College. The Cougars defeated Moreau Catholic 65-53 and is now on a five-game tear.
Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said Mobley is likely to stick with the varsity for its next outing — a Saturday date with St. Patrick-St. Vincent in the 5th annual Crush in the Valley Basketball Showcase in Napa. The Cougars (5-1, 11-10) need the depth as 6-foot-5 freshman Kodey Weary remains out with a broken wrist.
The defending Valley Oak League champions and CIF State Open Division qualifiers appear to have gotten past their early-season yips and are beginning to resemble the team that put together a remarkable 30-game winning streak last year — with potential to be even better.
“We just think we’re peaking at the right time,” Teevan said. “We’re playing really, really well; very proud of our guys. We were 4-9 just three weeks ago.”
It starts on the defensive end, and that is what ignited Weston Ranch at the outset against the Buffaloes.
Manteca had turnovers on its first two possessions, resulting in easy transition baskets for Coilton and Wilburn. Wilburn’s was a demonstrative left-handed dunk just 39 seconds into the game, and the Cougars were off to the races.
Coilton had three steals in the opening quarter when he scored 10 of his points. Weston Ranch forced 10 of Manteca’s 23 turnovers in the period.
“We had to come out with the bang because in our last few games we started out slow,” Coilton said. “I knew I could get the team going and be that spark, and that’s what I did.”
The Cougars led 25-12 at the end of the first quarter and 43-24 at halftime. They opened the third period with a 15-2 flurry that included two straight 3s from Lindsey.
“We wanted to jump on them early,” Teevan said. “In the eight years I’ve been (Weston Ranch coach), the first quarter is always the biggest one when you come here because they can really throw a punch. It’s just a real different environment than a lot of other ones.”
Jordahn Johnson, who was dominant last week, was limited to seven points but contributed seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. The way the team is playing, it doesn’t matter who is having an off night.
“When everyone is rolling, and we’re playing smart and we’re not worried about who is scoring, we’re hard to guard, especially when we get easy baskets off our defense,” Teevan said.
Manteca 74, W. Ranch 67
The Cougars (5-1, 16-5) were dealt their first league loss of the season.
Isaiah Roa paced Manteca (2-4, 8-8) with 25 points, making 13 of 15 free throws. Justice Chase added 17, and Noah Lyons had 15.
Nate Green, promoted from the freshman team, fired 21 points for Weston Ranch. Elliot Mobley contributed 17, with Xavion Bell contributing 12.