STOCKTON -- The Weston Ranch Cougars came ready to play Friday against Manteca.
In the 73-41 Valley Oak League victory, they came out crisp on offense and played relentless defensively.
Weston Ranch (2-0 VOL, 9-4 overall) jumped out to a 19-1 lead and never looked back. “It was too big of a hole for us to climb,” said Buffaloes coach Cody Norman.
He added: “We know teams will be gunning for us (since we’re rebuilding), especially Weston Ranch. This is a team that finished second to us these past three years.”
The Cougars appear poised to grab that top spot in the VOL. Against Manteca, they not only played unselfish ball, but had four players score in double figures. Rauline Martinez led the way with 15 points. A.J. Brown and Patricia King both netted 14 while Teressa Haley had 11.
“They’re comfortable playing together,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “They’re playing unselfish basketball.”
Indicative of what took place early in the game.
The floor leader Brown snagged a rebound, triggered the fastbreak, and found an open Kelli Laughlin cutting to the basket.
Martinez followed that up with a drive to the hoop, came up with a steal and, two quick passes later, Laughlin drained another jumper.
Down 13-0, Manteca (1-1, 3-9) finally scored on an Elizabeth Tolbert free throw. The Buffaloes battled back as Tolbert converted a three-point play to kickoff the second quarter.
Allison Rachels came off the bench to score five of her team-high 11 points in the period. Norman later praised her along with Kelly Ramos for their contributions in this difficult game.
“I think our reserves will have a chance to come in to some of these games this season and show what they can do,” he said.
Weston Ranch saw its once sizeable lead dwindle down to 11 on a few occasions.
“I think we got complacent after that fast start. We lost some of that earlier intensity,” Bauer said.
His team pulled away in the fourth as Martinez and Brown both canned treys and consistently set up teammates for scores.
Sonora 50, Lathrop 32
The Spartans (0-2 VOL, 4-10) only mustered three points in the third quarter and eventually fell on the road despite Loreal Taylor’s 12 points and 16 rebounds. Terrina Phillips had six points and five rebounds and Desiree Mendola scored seven to go with her four boards.
Lathrop, which went 6 of 21 from the free-throw line, trailed by six at the half and were down 12 heading into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats closed the game on a 15-9 run, and Lathrop will visit Weston Ranch on Wednesday next.
W. Ranch 41
The Cougars missed 13 layups and couldn’t overcome an early 18-10 deficit against Manteca, who outscored the host 23-15 over the final two quarters. Lathrop’s Elysia Hernandez netted a team-high 16 points and Anaya Adams dropped 10.