When Dylan Alexander and Eric Duncan started jawing with the Sierra High student body in the game’s final minute, it was hard to imagine at one point there was a 10-point lead for the host Timberwolves.
The lead didn’t last and neither did the Timberwolves’ run at a perfect Valley Oak League season. Weston Ranch played four quarters of good basketball and got a 67-50 win, setting up a league finale against Kimball High for a share of the league title with Sierra.
The Cougars (12-1 VOL, 18-8 overall) put together a second half the club won’t soon forget, mirroring Sierra’s tenacious defensive effort as no team has done this season. Timely baskets from Duncan, Alexander and Justin Lassiter (16 points, 9 rebounds) in the fourth handed the Timberwolves just their first loss in 27 VOL games.
“It just didn’t happen tonight,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “I give Weston Ranch a lot of credit, they made more plays than us. They got more inside buckets and they got way too many easy layups and we couldn’t do that. It was one of those nights we didn’t have it. Our spacing was poor, our execution wasn’t very good and I was disappointed with the way we finished that first half.
“I thought we should have been up by way more than three.”
The game had six lead changes in the first quarter, but Sierra seemingly settled down and took control of the game with a 10-0 run to open the second quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Eric Melgar and Guillermo Nunez (17 points) put Sierra in cruise control, but the gears slipped.
Weston Ranch found a late spark, trimming the Sierra lead to 29-26 by the half. A 9-0 run to open the second half would change the climate immediately and by the time the third was finished the Cougars transitioned from three-point deficit to seven-point lead.
“There were three or four times we could have let go of the rope,” Weston Ranch head coach Chris Teevan said. “We got down by 10 in the second, when Dylan got the intentional foul when they came back to start the fourth there were a lot of times and they didn’t.
“For Sierra everything has to be accounted for, every block out, every screen, every extra pass has to be made.”
Alexander definitely took matters into his own hands down the stretch, pouring in 10 of his 12 points in the second half. The senior playmaker had key three-point and four-point plays and pulled down seven rebounds to assist the cause. Daiveon Leverett finished in double-figures with 13, also sparking the Cougars defensive unit with four timely blocks. Duncan got it going early, scoring nine in the first half and closing with a game-high 20 points to lead all scorers.
Sierra (12-1, 22-4) got quality minutes from Johnnythan Munkholm (9 points, six rebounds), complementing a lineup that only had Nunez in double-figures.
“It was a big game for us,” Nunez said. “If we would have won we would have cut down the nets and won VOL, but it didn’t turn out that way. We just have to get back on the court.
“We’ll tell the players to get this loss out of our mind and keep playing.”
Sierra 57, W. Ranch 48
The Timberwolves got a huge outing from Devin Nunez and held off the visiting Weston Ranch Cougars in VOL play Friday.
Nunez led all scorers with 22, while teammate Hunter Johnson finished with 11.
Jordan Tauga led Weston Ranch with 12.
Sierra 62, W. Ranch 35
The Timberwolves took (12-1, 22-1) care of the visiting Cougars in blowout fashion Friday, securing an outright Valley Oak League championship with the win.
Daniel Wyatt made his presence felt with a game-high 18 points, collecting all of his points in the game’s first 16 minutes. Teammates Brian Terrell (11 points), Tanner Patterson (8 points) and Jess Spivey (8 points) followed Terrell in the scoring column.