WESTON RANCH — Is Weston Ranch High’s girls basketball team for real?
After racking up eight straight wins — including the Stagg Tournament title — for a program record-setting start, the Cougars had a chance to find that out Thursday in a 56-45 loss to Beyer of Modesto.
At the very least, the young and talented Cougars (8-1) — who start two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior — found out they can hang with the best team they have faced so far this season.
In fact, Weston Ranch took a 32-31 lead into halftime after DeArbia Gardner hit two free throws in the waning minutes of the second quarter.
But Beyer went on a big run in the third, outscoring the host team, 17-6. The Patriots (9-1) at one point held a 14-point lead in the frame.
“We came out and wanted to keep the pressure and the tempo the same, but when we made physical mistakes they exploited it,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “They’re a well disciplined team.
“We were frazzled and got a little frustrated.”
While the third-quarter mistakes surely didn’t help, Weston Ranch had its worse shooting night at a 14-for-54 clip from the field.
“Shots were just not falling,” Bauer said. “We had one sequence where we had six shots in a row but couldn’t put it in.”
Beyer point guard Brittney Jackson led all scorers with 14 points. Weston Ranch worked 6-foot-2 post Becca Baird into early foul trouble, but she exploded for nine of her 13 in the second half.
Gardner turned in 12 points to pace Weston Ranch. Amber Bell added 10 points and five steals, and Jazmin Strane pulled down 11 rebounds.
The loss was bound to come for Weston Ranch, and Bauer was glad it happened in the preseason against a solid Division-I team.
“The kids took it well afterwards, they knew they were up against a very good team,” he said. “I’d rather have (the loss) now and play mediocre against a good team than to have it late in the season and play terrible against a team we should beat.
“Now I’m just anxious to see how we are going to rebound the day after. We’ll see. We have a young team so it’ll be interesting.”
Weston Ranch looks to close its non-league schedule the way it started when it opens the Tracy Breakfast Lions/Tom Hawkins Tournament Dec. 26 against co-host Tracy.
With Heather Scharmann and Ariel McIntyre patrolling the post for Sierra this season, it stands to reason that T’Wolf opponents will do their best all season to fluster Sierra’s backcourt, hoping to prevent passing into the post.
But on night’s like Thursday, when Sierra’s guards are on top of their game, Issac Gutierrez’ squad is quite the imposing bunch.
Natalie Goulart was outstanding, as was Rebecca Wroten (eight points). The result was big-time numbers for Scharmann (12 points, 11 rebounds), and McIntyre (19 points, 11 rebounds), and, of course, the victory, Sierra’s fifth of the season.
“Natalie did a great job tonight leading the offense,” Gutierrez said. “And Rebecca really stepped it up with very smart play. We executed very well, it was exciting.
“It was our best game all year, and it comes at a great time with league up next.”
Sharisse Atkins is currently sidelined with a knee injury, which opened the door for Wroten to shine.
“I can’t say enough about our guards tonight,” Gutierrez said. “It’s no secret, teams are going to press us, and Stagg played tough, tougher than we expected coming in.
“It was just a great overall team effort.”
The T’Wolves will now put in a little off-the-court work, as Sierra’s varsity players are on site every season to make sure the Sierra High Lady Timberwolves Rotary Classic is a success.
This will be the 14th year of existence for the lower level tournament, which begins Dec. 26.
The T’Wolves (5-4) open Valley Oak League play Jan. 6 when Sonora comes calling.
VICTORY CHRISTIAN TOURNAMENT
Ripon Christian 92, Cristo Rey 35
Center Tyler Goslinga led the way with 15 points, Arie den Dulk pumped in 12 and David Vander Schaaf had 11. Casey Rhoda, Clayton Prins and Josiah Neeley each finished with 10.
RC advances to the winner’s bracket and next squares off with Central Catholic of Modesto tonight at 6:30 p.m.