LATHROP — The Brijanee Moore Era ended just as it was getting started for Weston Ranch.
One of Northern California’s top talents, Moore has been declared academically ineligible and will miss the remainder of her senior season. The Cougars moved forward Wednesday — one week after she participated in the first of her two games with the team — and coasted past rival Lathrop, 61-33.
“We played all preseason without her and had her for a couple games, now it’s back to where we were in the preseason,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “We’ll try and plug the holes and fix what needs to fix to be successful.”
Moore, who starred at St. Mary’s for 2 ½ years, was forced to sit out the first five weeks of the season because of CIF transfer rules. The dynamite point guard averaged 21 points last week in her only two games with the Cougars, who are now 3-0 in the Valley Oak League and 12-2 overall.
Aside from a slow start and a third quarter in which they committed eight turnovers, the Cougars managed just fine without Moore on Wednesday. They led by as much as 36, 55-19, early in the fourth quarter before calling off the dogs.
Elisabeth Alexander canned four 3-pointers and was the player of the game with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Patricia King collected 12 points, six assists and five rebounds. Victoria Gulley chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.
Lauren Collins scored all seven of her points in the second half to lead Lathrop (1-2, 6-10).
“Our offensive flow was OK at times but there were times we struggled tonight,” Bauer said. “Lathrop came out in man (defense) and did well for about 4 or 5 minutes but we’ll have to do a better job with that.”
Bauer added that this is a “good week” for the squad to work out the kinks that come with roster changes. Lathrop transfer Cierra Jones made her season debut for Weston Ranch on Tuesday. The forward contributed four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in limited action. Weston Ranch hosts struggling Oakdale (0-3, 2-13) on Thursday.
“Her first game out of the box went better than anticipated,” Bauer said. “She can dribble, she can post up and she can shoot the ball a little bit, it’s just about getting her into the flow of the game. Once she gets her legs underneath her she’ll be a huge help for us.”
Lathrop, averaging just 35 points per game, is still trying to get on track on the offensive end. The Spartans scored more points (17) in the fourth quarter than they did in the first three combined (16) but did most of that damage against Weston Ranch’s reserves.
The Cougars busted it open early with 18 unanswered points in the first half. Paula Mora’s fast-break layup with 2:25 to go in the second period ended Lathrop’s 8-minute, 43-second scoreless drought. Weston Ranch led 35-9 at halftime.
“We had 16 turnovers and 14 missed layups in the first half,” Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis said. “We have this joke among ourselves that the best way to defend us is to allow us to shoot open layups. We’re getting the ball to where it needs to be but we’re still not finishing. Obviously that’s what we’ll be working on in practice (today).”
Davis did find a bright spot in reserve center Deja Andrades. She grabbed 10 rebounds while scoring six points and giving the Spartans a presence in the paint.
“I’ve been telling the girls that I need someone to play like a post player and tonight Deja Andrades did that,” Davis said.