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BOYS HOOPS: Weston Ranch rallies past Manteca
Cougars take on Central Catholic in section final Saturday
Bulletin boys basketball 2018-19
Weston Ranch’s Donjaé Lindsey (15) elevates to the basket for two of his game-high 17 points against Jordan Burciaga and visiting Manteca in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal Wednesday. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

STOCKTON — Every game during its amazing win streak doubles a tryout of sorts for Weston Ranch.
The Cougars made it 29 straight Wednesday when they dusted Manteca 67-53 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals.
Another Valley Oak League foe stands in their way of their ultimate goal — a spot in the CIF State Open Division Championships. The top-seeded squad reunites with VOL runner-up Central Catholic on Saturday at Golden 1 Center.
To get consideration for the ultimate showcase of California’s best, Weston Ranch (30-1) must dispatch Central Catholic for a third time, like it already has against fellow Manteca Unified schools Manteca and Sierra in the postseason.
“I feel like we have to keep proving ourselves again,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “I think we were 21-1 when we said we have to get to 30 straight wins to be considered for the Open, and it’s right there in front of us. One more game, we just have go out and do it.”
Ranked No. 3 in Northern California by MaxPreps, Weston Ranch overcame early struggles on offense and foul trouble to continue its mastery of No. 4 Manteca (21-10). The Buffaloes closed the first half on an 8-2 run and trailed 26-19 with Weston Ranch’s top two players — Donjaé Lindsey and Gavin Wilburn — on the bench.
Lindsey led all scorers with 17 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Wilburn, who picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and fourth midway through the third, managed to finish with 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
“Doesn’t matter if I’m out, or Mi’Son (Coilton) or Donjaé, all we have to do is execute the offense and take the open shot and work hard on defense,” Wilburn said. “We can still get the job done.”
Senior wing Raul Melgarejo contributed two key 3-pointers in the second half and totaled 10 points. Lydell King and Titus Haley also hit two 3s apiece to combine for 12 points. Devin Small added eight poins and six boards, and Coilton had seven and six.
“Guys like Lydell, Raul and Titus, when people watch us they think they’re role players,” Teevan said. “If they’re on other teams they’d be one of the top players. We don’t consider them role players, we consider them really good players on our team. You can tell those guys believe it because they shoot the ball with confidence.”
Isaiah Victor paced Manteca with 16 points, and Jorge Cedano chipped in 13.
Domonick Victor, who ended with nine points and eight rebounds, opened scoring for the night with a baseline jumper just 50 seconds into the game. The Buffaloes did not score again until the final minute when reserve guard Rashawn Ballard hit a turnaround jumper and a put-back. Lindsey beat the buzzer with a layup to give Weston Ranch a 10-6 lead going into the second period.
“We didn’t hit shots early,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “I feel like we went away from our game plan. We wanted to attack the rim and the whole first half we didn’t really do that.”
His Buffaloes found a way to stay within range for much of the second half. Unheralded point guard Miguel Sequeira came alive and tallied six straight points for Manteca, including a coast-to-coast lay-in after he intercepted a pass. He ended up with six points but also had seven steals and four assists. His one-man flurry closed the Buffs in 56-48, and Isaiah Victor drilled a 3 with two minutes remaining to make it 58-51.
Manteca could get no closer, as Weston Ranch capped the night on a 9-2 run while making nine of its last 10 free throws in the period.
“I just wanted to continue playing in this (section tournament) and go to Sac on Saturday,” Sequiera said. “It’s my last year, so I want to give it everything I have. We just have to execute better. In the three times we played them we kind of folded when the pressure came.”
It’s not over yet for Manteca — all SJS semifinalists in Divisions I-V advance to the CIF Northern California Regional Championships.
Before then, Weston Ranch will vie for its second section banner. The Cougars are making third Division III final-round appearance in five years and fourth overall. Third-seeded Central Catholic (23-8) — which routed No. 2 Wood 55-38 in the other semifinal — is the defending champion in the bracket and captured the Division IV title in 2016 and 2017.
The Cougars rolled 61-39 in their previous meeting. The rematch is set for a 4 o’clock tipoff on Saturday.
“It’s a blessing for anybody to go play at Golden 1,” Wilburn said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”