Weston Ranch is heading to the championship game in one of the Central Section’s most prestigious tournaments.
The Cougars staved off Jalonni McCorvey and Sunnyside 78-75 in Friday’s semifinal round of the 56th Annual Holiday Invitational Tournament at Hoover High of Fresno. Sunnyside missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in an attempt to tie it.
Point guard Jaelen Ragsdale paced Weston Ranch (4-1) with 29 points and made five 3-pointers. Jazz Swanson netted six 3s to score his 18 points. Fred Lavender contributed 16 while drawing the tough defensive assignment on the 6-foot-4 McCorvey, who pumped in 28 points.
Weston Ranch led 24-15 after the first quarter and 46-38 at halftime, but the Wildcats (8-4) came charging back behind the hot hand of Xavier Richards. Sunnyside outpointed the Cougars 29-17 in the third to take the lead, as Richards fired 13 of his 16 points in the second half.
“(The Wildcats) don’t quit and they make 3s,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “We played well but this tournament is no joke. The gym was packed, standing-room only. Seemed like everyone from Fresno is there.”
Weston Ranch, though, could have iced the game much sooner but converted on less than half of their free-throw attempts (16-for-35).
“Our main goal on offense is to get to the free-throw line, and we’re doing that so that’s the good news,” Teevan said. “We’re good free-throw shooters but it was just a tough night.”
His Cougars can make another big statement tonight when they tangle with undefeated Immanuel (7-0) of Reedley. The Eagles downed Fresno-based Roosevelt 65-57 in a battle of unbeatens. The title game will feature a matchup of heralded point guards: Weston Ranch’s Ragsdale against NCAA prospect Colin Slater Jr. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 tipoff.
“At this time last year we were getting beat down in these tournaments, so it’s nice to get into a championship, especially one this big and renowned,” Teevan said.
Running with the Pack
Cosumnes Oaks 56, Manteca 50
The Buffaloes (7-3) led one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s top teams for three-plus quarters but were outscored 22-9 in the fourth.
Their upset bid was stopped short when tournament host Cosumnes Oaks (6-2) nailed down a runner with a second left on the shot clock and 19 seconds to go in the contest. Manteca’s then had a layup roll in and out, and the Wolfpack capped the final score with a transition bucket.
“Our guys battled,” Manteca coach Brett Lewis said. “We knew it was a tough game against a great team. We had a good game for about 3 ½ quarters, just couldn’t finish. Gotta give Cosumnes Oaks credit, they played well.”
Manteca held an 11-point lead late in the second quarter, but Jaaron Stallworth canned back-to-back 3-pointers to draw the Wolfpack closer. Stallworth finished with 16 points, and highly-recruited Eric Toles led Cosumnes Oaks with 19.
But the player of the game was Anand Hundal, Manteca’s 6-8 center who accumulated 22 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks. The Buffaloes take on Elk Grove (6-3) for third place today at 4:30 p.m.
Anand Hundal 21 rebounds, 22 points, six blocks
Tracy Holiday Classic
West 81, East Union 68
Upset-minded East Union (4-5) had the tournament’s four-time defending champion on the ropes late in the third quarter and held a 55-41 lead at one point.
Isaiah Grady and Elijah Tuando caught fire for the Wolf Pack (6-4), which outscored the Lancers 25-11 in the fourth to pull away. Grady finished with 22 points, while Tuando buried three of West’s eight 3s and ended up with 19 points.
East Union’s Gyse Hulsebosch led all scorers with 25 points, and Austin Miller nailed four 3s and had 20 points. The Lancers square off with Valley Oak League rival Kimball at 6 tonight back at West’s Steve Thornton Gym.
The early-season struggles continued for the Spartans (0-9) at Tracy High’s Swenson Gym, as they committed 29 turnovers in a consolation-bracket contest. Castlemont (5-5) limited Lathrop to just four points in the second quarter to break open a 31-16 halftime lead.
Lathrop was able to claw back with a 17-6 third-quarter run but missed nine free throws in the fourth. The Knights of Oakland needed just one field goal in the final period, as they converted 20 of 24 free throws.
Nathan Ogunbanwo led Lathrop with 15 points, and Isaiah Ellis had 13. Buhach Colony (0-8) awaits in the seventh-place game as both teams vie for their first win of the season.
Ripon Winter Classic
Ripon 73, Galt 50
The Indians (5-5) raced out to a 23-8 first-quarter lead and cruised from there.
Cole Stevens tallied 22 points to pace Ripon. Cody Haines added 11 points in his first game back from an ankle sprain, and Mario Roach finished with 10.
Ripon tangles with Bret Harte in the championship tonight starting at 6:30.