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Young Cougars have trouble finishing off dangerous Lancers
Weston Ranch’s Daiveon Leverett goes up for the dunk Wednesday late in the Cougars’ VOL win over East Union. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Weston Ranch’s boys basketball team showed why it can be both frustrating and exciting to watch during one of the most crucial, and yet most routine, sequences in an 81-75 victory at East Union Wednesday.

Leading by three with 20 seconds left, the Cougars had a chance to ice the victory when junior guard Andre Beard (8 points, 9 rebounds) was presented a wide-open layup opportunity in transition.

With 6-foot-7 sophomore teammate Daiveon Leverett striding behind him, it appeared that this one would end emphatically.

Instead, Leverett missed the uncontested dunk, and East Union’s Alex Del Real collected the defensive rebound to give the Lancers a shot at tying it.

Melvin Allen, the lone senior in a starting rotation that features three sophomores, ended up saving the night for Weston Ranch, as he intercepted the outlet pass at midcourt, took it the other way for a layup and the and-1 to punctuate the win.

“I was thinking, ‘Man, we should have just gotten the layup,’” said Allen, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. “But you can’t be mad. It was the game situation, and I knew we had to get right back to it on defense. I just saw my chance and got the ball back.”

Leverett shouldn’t be remembered for the missed dunk, however. He had one of his best efforts of the season — 19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks — and drilled the go-ahead jumper from the right elbow with 51 seconds remaining.

 Dylan Alexander, another sophomore, led all players with 25 points, 13 of them coming in the third quarter, and eight boards. Zerrion Payton chipped in eight points and four assists.

Still, the selfish play was probably the more appropriate one during the blooper, but it was selfish play that Weston Ranch coach Ryan Bono felt kept EU in the ballgame to begin with.

The Cougars (7-0, 16-2 overall) scored nine unanswered to start the game and tallied eight assists in the first quarter alone. After leading 21-16 at the end of the first, they found themselves down 39-37 at halftime and had zero assists in the second period.

“Our team has a tendency to get selfish,” Bono said. “I think once we got off to a good start we got comfortable. We didn’t stay with what was successful — attacking the basket and sharing the ball.

“Some of our inexperience comes out, and we have a team that likes to score. When things aren’t going well, we have guys who want to go get theirs.”

East Union (4-3, 10-8) took advantage and showed the VOL leaders that it was willing to stand and trade blows with them.

Robert Vaughn was outstanding in his 20-point performance. He also grabbed nine rebounds and handed out six assists. TeeJay Gordon poured in 19 points, and Jordan Kron added 13 points and four steals.

“We gave them a run for their money, but it’s a little late for moral victories,” East Union coach Brett Lewis said. “We need wins now.”