By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Weston Ranch holds off EUs late charge
Sykes free throws seal victory after Lancers shrink big defecit
Nate Moises drives to the hoop in the first half of Weston Ranch’s 50-47 win over East Union Friday night. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN
WESTON RANCH – The last time the Weston Ranch Cougars took on East Union, they breezed their way to a victory with a commanding 20-point margin, 60-40.

But on Friday when the two teams clashed again, the Lancers were far from ready to lie down.

Despite being down 15 points at halftime, East Union used its zone defense to disrupt Weston Ranch’s efficient offense and narrowed the deficit to two.

In the end, however, the Cougars found a way to overcome what had been a stumbling block of a second half in the game’s final seconds to squeeze out a 50-47 victory.

“I called a timeout tonight, and I challenged our guys to rise up and get the job done,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “There are no excuses, but we didn’t have a real good week of practice and we had some guys that were sick this week.

“But when it came time for them to suck it up late in the game, they came together – and that’s shows me that we’ve come a long ways.”

The Cougars started out with an early first-quarter run with multiple scores by Jason Steele and Nathan Moises that helped set the tempo for what would become a dominant half.

Holding a 30-15 lead going in to the break it appeared that Weston Ranch could do no wrong.

East Union, however, could definitely do right.

After catching a tip from his assistant coach, Gary Kron, at halftime Lancer head coach Eric Simoni called for the zone defense and watched his team slowly close the gap.

“When you have good assistant coaches around you that give you tips like the one that Gary Kron gave me at halftime about switching to a zone defense, you can put things together,” Simoni said. “All week our man coverage had been our best because our intensity level was up, but we felt we could disrupt their scoring and it gave us a chance to claw back in to the game.

“But the statistic that hurt us the most tonight was offensive rebounding – giving them too many second-chance opportunities to score.”

With key buckets from Larry Molina and Tyler Bylow late in the game, East Union eventually closed in to within two points with only 16 seconds left on the clock.

But with the game in the bonus, the Lancers were forced to foul to attempt to get the ball back – sending Derrick Sykes to the line twice.

Larry Molina’s field goal in between the free throw attempts still gave East Union a puncher’s chance, but a loose ball that was eventually grabbed by both Bylow and the Cougars’ Josh Inis resulted in a jump ball and gave Weston Ranch the possession and the chance to run out the clock.

Sykes led the Cougars in scoring with a 15 point performance, while fellow guard Nate Moises pumped in 14 that came consistently throughout the night.

Moises also pulled down two rebounds and grabbed a steal in addition to helping the Cougars build their early first-half lead.

“Nate is probably the hardest working guy on our team,” Bono said. “He’s not very flashy and he doesn’t get a whole lot of press, but he’s the guy who gives you his best performance night-in and night-out and you can’t ask for any more from a player.”

Ricky Inderbitzin also managed to net 15 points, while Tyler Bylow and T.J. Brown scored seven apiece. Corey Hardesty – who had been sidelined for the majority of the season with an injury – helped the Lancers claw back in with his all-around performance that included five rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist on his 4-for-5 performance from the free throw line.

Weston Ranch (8-2 VOL, 13-9 overall) travels to Sonora next Wednesday to begin the final two weeks of the season.

East Union (2-8 VOL, 3-19 overall) will travel to Central Valley. Both games are set to tip off at 7:15 p.m.