FRESNO – Jaelen Ragsdale scored 25 points to lead four players in double figures as the Weston Ranch boys basketball team cruised to victory in the opening round of the Holiday Invitational Tournament.
Jazz Swanson knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, while Fred Lavender and Josh Dilg chipped in 11 apiece for the Cougars, who celebrated Wednesday’s 78-22 win over Madera by …
Pointing the team van back to South Stockton, round trip 300 miles.
You see, it’s finals week for the Manteca Unified School District, which suggests tougher tests lie ahead for Weston Ranch. The Cougars will return to Fresno tonight to face Clovis.
Wednesday’s game finished with a running clock in the second half. Weston Ranch led 31-7 after one quarter and 57-16 at the half.
“We know we’ll face stiff competition in this tournament. That’s coming (today),” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan, his team now 1-2. “This was step No. 1. We have to play who they put us up against. That’s how they made the brackets, so we’ll just roll with it.”
The Cougars have been on the other side of a running clock.
Last winter, Weston Ranch was whipped by Modesto Christian in the Crusader Classic, 85-41, a team that would eventually win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship.
Teevan said his club wasn’t trying to run up the score against the short-handed Coyotes, playing without 6-foot-8 junior Ethan Richardson. They were simply honoring the game by playing hard, avoiding the complacency and free-wheeling style of play that can creep into a blowout.
Richardson warmed up with the team but never got off the bench.
“We’ve had a clock run against us. We know what it’s like to be on the other side of that,” Teevan said. “It’s an insult to the other team to get lazy and joke around. I told the guys at halftime to make sure you have integrity, play hard and do what you do.
“Madera played as hard as they could, but they didn’t have the horses to get it done.”
Teevan wasn’t so convinced Wednesday’s effort, at least offensively, could produce a win against a stronger opponent. Weston Ranch struggled from the floor, Teevan said, and was helped along by a defense that created transition points early.
“Our guards did a good job, defensively,” Teevan said. “I didn’t like the way they played on offense, but defensively, we were able to get deflections and we got some easy layups out of it. That’s what I was happy to see.
“Anytime you get Ragsdale and Lavender in the open court, you’re setting yourself up for success.”
Tre Simmons, the fifth featured guard in Teevan’s guard-heavy rotation, had eight points.