WESTON RANCH — Daiveon Leverett only touched the ball three times in the second half Wednesday against East Union.
Luckily for Weston Ranch he didn’t take it personally. His two-handed rebound with 2.7 seconds on the clock protected a 60-58 Cougars victory that keeps them one game behind Valley Oak League-leading Sierra, their opponent on Friday.
East Union rode the dominant play of Jake Danhoff and Jordan Kron to nearly pull off the upset, trailing by a bucket but with possession and under 25 seconds remaining. The Lancers would get no closer, gaining the rebound after Leverett’s free-throw miss with 0.7 seconds remaining and failing to get a shot off.
The Cougars’ biggest lead was nine, 36-27, early in the third, but it wouldn’t last long, as East Union stayed within four points over the final 14 minutes. Dylan Alexander thwarted the Lancers with three 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter.
“My teammates just found me when I was open and I knocked them down,” Alexander said after the win. “They believed in me and that was what gave me the confidence to make them. East Union never backs down from anybody; you have to go in ready to play against them.
“They can shoot the lights out, they play hard and they’re going to go after you no matter who you are.”
Alexander led the Cougars with 19, including five 3-pointers, while teammate Eric Duncan finished with 15 points with eight coming in the second half. East Union trailed 33-27 at the half because Alexander hit a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Lancers were right where they wanted to be, but they got all of its points from two players.
Danhoff and Kron, who each had 23 points, were more than up for the challenge, supplying all the points through two quarters.
“We played like that because we have nothing to lose,” Kron said of his team’s effort. “We pretty much took this as a playoff game in itself, so we came out with one mentality and that’s to play hard and out-hustle the other team.”
Any contribution from the remainder of the Lancers’ lineup and their chances would have improved. They got minor contributions, but not enough to handle Weston Ranch’s Big Three of Alexander, Duncan and Leverett.
“We’re just trying to keep our best guys on the court,” East Union head coach Brett Lewis said. “We’re trying to get guys some opportunities and some guys are taking advantage of that. We’re proud of that (Kron and Danhoff’s 27-point first half) and the fact they were the only two that scored and they got rolling early, but we had to try and get Justin (Nieto) the ball and get him going a little bit.
“We just needed a couple more baskets.”
Weston Ranch 55, East Union 34
The Cougars blew a close game wide open with a suffocating third quarter on defense.
Marcus Moore and Jaelen Raggsdale led Weston Ranch with 20 and 16, respectively, while East Union was led by Kyle Emmerson’s 11 points and Gabe Chavez’ eight.