MODESTO – After a slow start Saturday, Weston Ranch’s Mariah Ghattas and Justice Stitt caught fire and led the Cougars to a 51-45 come-from-behind win over Grace Davis of Modesto in Modesto Christian’s MLK Showcase.
“We had to battle back from the start,” Weston Ranch coach Darrell Johnson said. “Today, I called a quick timeout to regroup and the difference in the game is our shooters had. Mariah (Ghattas) and Justice (Stitt) made some 3-pointers and that energized the team.
“I really believe that the second-quarter run was big for us to get back into the game and go into halftime only down by two. That kept us close enough to where if we kept our speed going and the shooting stayed somewhat alive we still had an opportunity to win the game.”
Trailing 14-5 after the first quarter, the Cougars (3-14) started the second period on an 11-2 run behind the hot hand of Ghattas who scored eight of her team-high 18 points in the quarter. She finished with four 3-pointers.
“I have been working on my shots,” Ghattas said. “And it has been getting better every game.” The win against the Spartans (7-9) snapped an eight-game losing streak for Weston Ranch.
“We have been on a losing streak and our third quarter has been our worse quarter,” Stitt said. “I am glad we finally picked it up and we finally played together and we reached our goal of playing a full 32 minutes.”
Stitt had 11 points behind two 3-pointers and flirted with a double-double at eight rebounds. Jayla Evans added eight points and nine rebounds and Asani White pulled down nine rebounds.
Grace Davis’ Lea Anderson led all scorers with 32 points.
of Merced 26
The Buffaloes (11-5) trailed by three points after the first period before exploding and nearly doubling the score, holding the Cougars to single digits in every quarter.
Manteca dominated the boards 30-14 and forced 20 turnovers behind 10 steals.
“We have been preaching defense all year,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “Our girls have bought into defense and they take pride in it.
“Once they got their legs under them this morning they came out played hard on defense.”
Chandler Nieman led a balanced Buffaloes attack with 11 points on just two field goals, going 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“In the beginning we were a little slow,” Nieman said. “We had to come together to get in the flow of things.
“Even though they were bigger underneath we capitalized on our rebounding. We were aggressive and went after every loose ball.”
After a six-point first period, Manteca’s output went up every quarter scoring 11 in the second, 15 in the third and 18 in the fourth.
The Buffaloes’ Jayda Jackson scored six of her nine points in the fourth period.
“We started off really slow,” Jackson said. “But then we worked really hard and spread out the floor more. We executed what coach told us to and it got better as time progressed.
“Our defense is what has helped us throughout the whole season. We have been playing really good defense and that has stopped some teams.”
Kyaria Jacobs and Marissa Serrano added six points each for Manteca.
Delia Moore led Golden Valley with 11 points.
Modesto Christian 100, Weston Ranch 47
The Cougars (11-4) ran into a suffocating press that did not let up until there was two minutes left in the third period with the Crusaders (13-2) leading 83-33.Modesto Christian finally cleared the bench with four minutes remaining in the game and a 98-44 lead.
“Modesto Christian is a heck of a team,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “We are not going to win many games when we don’t make a 3-pointer the entire game and we don’t even compete on the glass.
“I thought we were aggressive and found the right shots, but we didn’t finish possessions on either end tonight.”
Devin Small had eight of his team-high 16 points in the first quarter for the Cougars. Modesto Christian’s Aaron Murphy led all scorers with 24 points.