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Cougars place third with OT win over tournament host
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Weston Ranch’s boys basketball team finished with a more-than-respectable third-place effort in the Modesto Christian Holiday Classic Friday, defeating the tournament host in overtime, 79-77. It was the second time in as many years that the Cougars defeated Modesto Christian in overtime.

The Cougars (7-4) found themselves in a steep hole after the first quarter, but responded, pulling themselves even with the Crusaders at 27-27 after falling behind by eight.

“They jumped out on us hard in that first quarter hitting three 3s,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “We switched to a zone and held them in check in the second quarter with nine points.

“And we were able to score 17, so that turned the tide for us.”

The Cougars really got going at crunch time, putting up two of their most productive quarters offensively in the fourth and in the overtime period. Dylan Alexander pacing the club with eight points in the pivotal fourth.

Alexander would finish with 29 points, converting on four consecutive free throws in the waning minutes. Davieon Leverett poured in six of his 20 points in overtime. Zerrion Payton finished with 18 points and five assists, while Andre beard chipped in with nine and pulled down 10 rebounds.

“Going 3-1 in the Modesto Christian Tournament is not too bad,” Bono said. “What’s good is we played our best game of the year tonight against MC. Hopefully heading into league we can keep the confidence that we have in our team.”

The Cougars will open the Valley Oak League season Tuesday with a visit from the Oakdale Mustangs.

Ripon 61, Sylmar 41

The key to success for the Ripon Indians in their MC Holiday Hoop Classic finale win was exposing a glaring advantage the Indians held in the paint. Ripon did exactly that, getting a dominant performance inside the paint from Jake McCreath and Conner Jones.

The pair combined for 32 points in limited action, with McCreath pouring in 14 points and pulling down 14 rebounds in the first half.  Henk Gaalswyk added nine. Ripon got up by as much as 28 midway through the third quarter.

“They were just really short in stature, so we just continued to go inside,” Ripon head coach Rod Wright said. “Both Jake and Conner Jones ate them alive, so we just kind of feed off them.”

Ripon (5-7) will open its Trans Valley League schedule Tuesday with a visit to Hilmar to take on the Yellowjackets.