STOCKTON — The young Cougars of Weston Ranch began their Valley Oak League title defense Tuesday with 62-42 loss to visiting Central Catholic.
“They’re a good team,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan of the more experienced Raiders.
Central Catholic displayed a balanced scoring attack and controlled the boards throughout most of the game.
Meanwhile, the Cougars (0-1 VOL, 7-6) started two sophomores in Raul Melgarejo and Makhi Turner, and a pair of freshmen in Gavin Wilburn and Titus Haley.
This was the first varsity game this year this year for Turner and Haley.
Teevan, however, didn’t attribute his team’s slow start to lack of experience.
“We weren’t ready to play,” he said. “As coach, that’s on me.”
Central Catholic (1-0 VOL, 10-2) came out guns ablaze from the start. Senior sharpshooter Amrit Dhaliwal hit all three of his 3s, junior guard Joshua Hamilton also buried a trey, and junior wing Malcolm Clayton and senior guard Jared Rice also contributed to the Raiders’ 20-0 run.
Central Catholic took a 24-4 lead into the second quarter.
Turner hit a 3 and scored on a drive to the hoop early on for Weston Ranch.
The Raiders answered back by scoring nine unanswered point capped by Cooper Wilson’s 3.
Trailing 38-14 at the break, the Cougars started to chip away at the lead.
Wilburn scored on a drive and Turner delivered with nine points including three straight from the foul line.
Melgarejo’s bucket trimmed the Central Catholic lead, 46-30.
Weston Ranch put together one more run at the start of the fourth behind the play of Miloni Massey, who quickly buried a jumper and then set up Turner’s 3. Massey came through with a trey, pulling his team closer to striking distance, 50-38.
The Raiders closed out the game with a 12-4 run.
Dhaliwal and Hamilton both finished with 15 points while Rice and Clayton had 12 and 10, respectively.
Turner had a game-high 18 with four rebounds and two blocks for the Cougars.
Massey chipped in with nine.
Melgarejo had eight boards and a block.
“We’re still in search of the right combination,” said Teevan, who is encouraged with his team’s potential.
Central Catholic took the sophomore game, 72-33.