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Ranch to be tested by touted Modesto Christian
Weston Ranch sophomore Dylan Alexander attempts a layup in front of Manteca High’s Ben Odell at Winter Gym Jan. 28. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Weston Ranch boys basketball head coach Ryan Bono was presented a win-win opportunity he could not pass up.

His young and talented Cougars will face small-school powerhouse Modesto Christian Saturday in a showcase between two of the top teams hailing from southern half of the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Modesto Christian was originally scheduled to play Manteca and confirmed Weston Ranch as the replacement last Friday.

The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tipoff at MC’s Salida-based campus.

If Weston Ranch loses it can afford to take the hit. While the game does count against records, it will not be factored into the section’s postseason playoff power ratings. Out-of-conference contests played after Jan. 7 are not counted.

Weston Ranch builds confidence and prestige with a win. A loss wouldn’t hurt its playoff standing while serving as both a measuring stick and needed tune-up for more meaningful games down the road.

A win-win, indeed.

“MC will be a real good challenge for our young team,” Bono said. “MC brings a different level of intensity that we’re not used to seeing night in and night out.

“I think it will be good for us to see that now, because we don’t have anyone on our roster with playoff experience.”

Weston Ranch (18-2) takes an 11-game winning streak into tonight’s Valley Oak League matchup at Lathrop High. ranks the Cougars 35th in the section, while Modesto Christian (18-3) is 13th.

Weston Ranch boasts three promising sophomores in 6-foot-4 swingman Dylan Alexander (18.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.7 spg), 6-7 center Daveion Leverett (10.1 ppg) and point guard Zerrion Payton (11.6 ppg). Andre Beard (13.6 ppg, 9.4 apg) and Melvin Allen (10.2 ppg) make up the rest of Weston Ranch’s explosive starting rotation.

Modesto Christian, which has claimed 11 straight section championships, will certainly keep the Cougars on their toes.

Anthony Pratt (15.7 ppg), a solidly-built 6-5 senior forward, and senior guard Derek Evans (15.1 ppg) lead a Crusader team that has no stars, but their depth and balance is what makes it so effective.

The Crusaders also get production from 6-3 senior Ryan Riner, sophomore Raymond Bowles (13.7 ppg), freshmen Mason Washington and Gabe Vincent, and 6-4 center Raymond Nelson — a UCLA signee for football and brother of former MC basketball star Reeves Nelson, who currently plays for UCLA’s men’s basketball team.