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Cougars close must-win game with 21-6 run
Weston Ranch’s Griffin Alexander (30) gets tangled up with teammate Jason Steele and East Union’s Tyler Bylow for the rebound Wednesday during the Cougars’ VOL win. - photo by HIME ROMERO
WESTON RANCH – After taking the lead and setting the stage for a come-from-behind victory with just over four minutes remaining, the East Union boys basketball team went ice cold, dropping its must-win Valley Oak League contest to Weston Ranch 64-50 Wednesday.

The Cougars (9-4 VOL, 13-11) tried to better their chances of landing a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff spot by putting together a solid three-quarter run, but found themselves trailing half-way through the final period after East Union turned the tables.

The Lancers (6-7, 11-12) chopped into Weston Ranch’s lead with timely shooting from Teejay Gordon and Tyler Bylow, but with the game in the balance East Union could only muster one field goal over the final four minutes and 43 seconds.

“We couldn’t get a stop and they’d come down and make a couple of layups,” East Union head coach Brett Lewis said. “They put together a couple of three-point-plays and that was what got them rolling. We came down and went in panic mode and just started shooting the ball.

“If it goes in great, but if not, they just get another possession.”

The ladder described the Lancers final push, forfeiting any opportunity to get back in the contest by tossing up deep-perimeter shots early in their possessions. East Union’s final basket came at the 2:38 mark, when Robert Vaughn’s layup cut Weston Ranch’s lead to 52-50. The Cougars’ defense wouldn’t give up another point.

“We were able to hold them to one shot, we started rebounding the ball defensively and we started working hard on the defensive end to get us into our transition game,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “That is what got us going in that fourth quarter.”

Cougar senior Nathan Moises played an integral part in the team’s transition game, getting out in front of the pack for uncontested layups and often starting the break after gathering an offensive board.

“Nate does two things really well,” Bono said. “He likes to get out on the open floor and he likes to rebound. He’s undersized at six-foot, but I think he is our leading rebounder.

“Offensively and defensively, if Nate is rebounding he is playing well.”

That was clearly the case in this must-win affair, turning in a game-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Moises got warmer as the game progressed, scoring 15 of his 25 in the second half. Teammate Jason Steele finished with 14 points, six boards, while Ronnie Collins added a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds.

“Coach Bono called a timeout in the fourth and got on us about picking it up,” Moises said after the win. “Our intensity wasn’t there, so we had to pick things up.

“Every since we went on that three-game losing streak, we are always talking about taking it one game at a time and that is our focus.”

Ricky Inderbitzin led a Lancer effort that was once again without the services of standout freshman Jordan Kron. Kron, who has been out with an injury, leads East Union in scoring, forcing someone to take on the bulk of the missing contributions.

Inderbitzin didn’t flinch, pouring in 11 of his team-high 15 points in the first-half. Gordon finished with 13, while Bylow finished with eight, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“This was a tough game for us,” Lewis said. “We had the lead with around four minutes to play, it would have been great to get another basket right there and possibly taken over.

“Give Weston Ranch credit, they’re a good team and they finished the job.”

 The Cougars will look to ride their momentum as they try and close out league play without hindrance, beginning Friday with a trip to Lathrop to take on the Spartans. East Union will try and bounce back with a solid performance at home against the Central Valley Hawks.