Weston Ranch hadn’t lost back-to-back games all season until it dropped its final two in the Valley Oak League.
Head coach Chris Bauer isn’t the least bit worried.
The losses appeared to have had no affect on its seeding for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, and he was pleased with his team’s effort in a competitive 53-41 defeat to two-time VOL champion Kimball.
Last Saturday, Feb. 14, the Cougars (20-6) were stunned by East Union, 59-52, currently the Manteca area’s hottest girls squad having won eight of its last nine heading into the postseason. Two days later Kimball (27-0) visited and completed its perfect run through the regular season. Weston Ranch led 21-19 at halftime but allowed the Jaguars to open the third quarter on a 12-0 run thanks to five turnovers on consecutive possessions.
“The execution was there, the pace was there, as were the intensity, focus and desire,” Bauer said. “Everything you need at this point of the season was there, but just one two-minute stretch sunk us.
“The girls were upset we lost, but I told them they played a quality team that’s starting to play their best ball. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
If all goes well in Tuesdays opener, that direction may once again be south on Interstate-5 with a potential rematch against Patterson looming.
First things first: Weston Ranch must get past a team Bauer has little intel on, as 12th-seeded Rosemont of Sacramento visits Cougar Country in a battle between league runners-up. The Wolverines (18-9) took second in the Sierra Valley Conference behind El Dorado, the No. 9 seed in the division.
Weston Ranch was awarded its highest seed in program history at No. 5. The Cougars have a chance to make more history with two wins, which would put them in an SJS semifinal and punch their ticket to the CIF Northern California Regional Championships for the first time.
Bauer reached out to several of Rosemont’s previous opponents to put together some sort of scouting report.
“They like to go uptempo, from what little I’ve seen through social media,” Bauer said. “And from what I hear they have two kids that make everything go for them.”
Rosemont is anchored by a pair of junior guards in Irene Colaivalu (18 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, 4.9 steals) and Nia Williams (9.8 points). The Cougars counter with CSU Stanislaus-bound Elisabeth Alexander (20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks), Patricia King (12.3 points) and Victoria Gulley (8.0 points, 9.3 rebounds).
“We still have to make sure we take care of the ball and do the things we’re supposed to to be successful,” Bauer said. “We’re going to look to keep the tempo up, play defense and control the boards.”
And if Weston Ranch gets the desired result, No. 4 Patterson (24-3) would be the likely quarterfinal opponent. Last year the Cougars were eliminated by Patterson 73-55 in the second round. They were able to hang for three quarters but were ultimately worn down by the Tigers’ superior depth and size.
“If we can get another crack at Patterson we welcome it,” Bauer said.