STOCKTON — Never mind that the Cougars came in as the top-seeded team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
They still had something to prove in opener against No. 16 Cordova.
No problem. Weston Ranch easily disposed of the Lancers Wednesday, winning 75-39. Up next is No. 9 El Camino, which knocked off Johnson 73-65 on the road.
“We came into the playoffs with something to prove,” said Cougars senior D’Angelo Finley, who was anxious to face the postseason challenge.
Included was a breakaway slam dunk in the second quarter set up by Fred Lavender’s outlet pass.
Confidence was not a problem for Weston Ranch (24-4).
“We were very paranoid, but that seems to work for us,” coach Chris Teevan said.
His Cougars were nearly flawless moving the ball, bolting out to an early 16-5 lead.
“Our offense was good when we worked the ball, from inside (and) out,” Teevan said.
The Cougars played unselfishly, with Lavender finding Josh Dilg for the open 3-point basket to kick the game off.
Finley did likewise, setting up Lavender’s trey.
Finley subsequently hit his jumper thanks to a pass from Dilg, giving his team an 8-0 edge.
Weston Ranch outshot Cordova (17-12) from 3-point land, 10-4.
The Cougars had a 17-11 lead after the first quarter, taking advantage of six Lancer turnovers.
Cordova had its best showing early in the second, closing the gap when Jose Hernandez came off the bench to score six quick points.
Joseph Gomez’s 3 trimmed the deficit, 33-22.
That was close enough for the Cougars, who then went on a 14-3 run sparked by Jaelen Ragsdale, Lavender and Finley.
Lavender led all scorers with 18 points to go with his five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
“We just wanted to come in here and get the ‘W,’” he said.
Ragsdale and Finley both chipped in with 15 points.
Senior center Anthony Booker also had a solid game with eight points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
“Everyone is hungry to show what we can do (in the playoffs), from one to 15,” Finley said.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.