Weston Ranch put Friday’s Valley Oak League ball game against Sierra solely in the hands of standout sophomore Jaelen Ragsdale.
The visiting Cougars did miss seven throws, but they also failed to hang on to a seven-point lead with 2:35 left in regulation, resulting in a 61-59 loss.
Ragsdale drove the lane after reading the screen, but went too hard off the backboard and missed the potential game-tying layup at the buzzer.
“Jaelen is our guy,” Weston Ranch head coach Chris Teevan said. “We want him shooting that ball 10 out of 10 times, and we have no hesitation going back to him in that situation. He made the right read, just missed the shot. Sierra won the game and we lost. Great job Sierra.”
The Timberwolves (9-0 VOL, 16-5 overall) came up clutch down the stretch.
They scored the last nine points of the contest, including 5 of 5 from the foul line and were 19 of 21 overall. A matchup between the defending VOL co-champs was entertaining throughout.
The third quarter saw eight lead changes and Ragsdale hit four go-ahead buckets in that third frame alone and had 10 of his team’s 12 points. He finished with 19, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.
“Everyone wants to talk about their grade level and their youth, but man, throw that out the window,” Sierra head coach Scott Thomason said. “Those guys are good players. We knew Ragsdale could play and we knew (Jazz Swanson) was our top priority as far as shooting the ball. We had a hard time keeping (Ragsdale) in front of us.”
Swanson finished with 20 points on 6 3-pointers.
“I don’t think Jazz knows where he’s at half the time, he just plays basketball,” Teevan stated.
Swanson hit a 3-ball to start the fourth quarter on a feed from Ragsdale, who also hit a 3 to make it 46-39. Swanson drilled another triple, which made it 53-48. Josh Dilg also knocked in a 3-ball that made it 59-52 with 2:35 left and sent the Cougars’ crowd into a premature celebration.
That’s when Sierra came charging back.
Joshua Patton scored a bucket to pull within five, followed by a three-point play by Hunter Johnson (game-high 20 points). He also had nine rebounds and two assists.
Sierra junior Devin Nunez (11 points, three assists, four rebounds, four steals) came up with a key steal with 1:07 left, which turned into a pair of free throws by Bryson Sanders that tied it at 59.
Weston Ranch’s Alex Delinila got to the rack and hit the bucket, plus the foul, which was overturned and reversed to a charging call.
Patton got to the line for Sierra with 9.9 seconds left and converted the go-ahead free throws that set up Ragsdale’s final call that rimmed out.
“We respect Weston Ranch a lot,” Thomason added. “We knew they were going to battle. We haven’t had a close game in league, so for us to be in a situation where we had to go execute under pressure, I think later we’re going to benefit from that.”
Patton (three blocks, a steal and four rebounds) had nine of his 15 points in third quarter, which he opened with a dunk to ignite Sierra’s crowd.
Weston Ranch will play on Wednesday at Oakdale.
Sierra will host Sonora on Wednesday.
Sierra 51, W. Ranch 44
Jamille Grady was hot from outside the arc and finished with three 3s and 12 points for the T’Wolves. Noah Ault also had 12 points, and Parmvir Singh chipped in with 10.